Manwel Dimech bridge’s east carriageway is expected to be completed and open for traffic in the coming days, minister Jesmond Mugliett said yesterday.
However, there is still no confirmation on the exact date for the completion and total cost of the project, because an agreement between government and the contractors has still not been reached.
Although government has already signalled March 2008 as a deadline for ‘practical completion’, the contractor’s programme of works sets May as the date of completion.
Architect Malcolm Gingell, on behalf of the contractors’ consortium, said the delay was due to the setting up of the special scaffoldings, delays in the demolition, the importation of materials, as well as the delays from the foreign part of the consortium. The cost of the project, he said, was still being estimated.
Gingell said the first carriageway should be completed in the coming days, with just a final layer of asphalt, street furniture and lighting, pending. New traffic arrangements will be then arranged for works to start on the opposite carriageway.
The scaffolding is already being removed and will be put up again under the West carriageway.
The previous bridge, Gingell said, had lasted for just over 35 years, but the new construction will have a lifespan of 80 years for the superstructure and a lifespan of 100 years for the columns below.
Various tests have already been carried on the concrete. Gingell said rainwater will drain to a single place into the valley below, while a waterproofing membrane has been laid below the asphalt to ensure the concrete is not weakened through contact with water.
The asphalt material is being used for the first time in Malta. The expansion joints are also more durable and have been laid down in such a manner to remove the bumps over the previous bridge. The road has also been widened at its south end for a ‘deceleration lane’ to ease the turning down to St Julian’s.