August 10, 2017

Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass

Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass widening project, other ongoing road works announced

In the coming days the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, through Transport Malta, will issue a call for tenders for the widening and betterment of the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass near the Santa Venera tunnels, in order to aid the difficulties posed by traffic in these areas.

At the same time, resurfacing works on roads which needed immediate attention in diverse localities across the country are ongoing.

While preparing for next year’s launch of the agency which will be responsible for the improvement and continuous maintenance of roads in Malta and Gozo, the Government is also ensuring that a number of projects which can start dealing with the challenges our roads currently face is done by the end of this year. In fact, Transport Malta is currently carrying out works in a number of localities across the country.

Under the coordination of Transport Malta architects and officials, Birkirkara Road in Ħ’Attard, near San Anton Palace, and Santa Katerina Road in the same locality, are being improved. Similar works will begin in parts of E. Mizzi Road and Imsida Road in Gżira, parts of Sejba Road in Imqabba, and parts of Independence Avenue in Mosta this month.

Resurfacing work on Għexierem Road and Wesgħa tal-Mużew in front of the Roman Villa in Rabat started a few weeks ago and is expected to conclude shortly. Transport Malta is currently rebuilding from scratch parts of Namura Road in Baħrija. A call for tenders for contractors has been issued towards rebuilding from scratch Bormla Road, better known as Ċawsli Road, in Żabbar. Work on this road is expected to begin shortly.

In the coming weeks, another call for tenders will be issued towards widening parts of the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass, a project with an investment of around €5 million, with the aim of improving the flow of traffic in the area. Similar projects aimed at improving accessibility to main roads will be announced in the coming months.


Works towards improving access for vehicles in the area of Mosta Road in Lija have reached their final stages. In this case, the existent road is being widened with the use of new lanes in order to minimise congestion. This work will reduce time lost in traffic for drivers, as well as improving accessibility and reducing air pollution for Lija and Iklin residents in the area.

A similar project is being carried out in Gudja, in order to add new lanes around the roundabout which takes drivers to the airport, to Gudja Bypass and the Kirkop tunnel. This work will aid residents of Gudja, Għaxaq, Kirkop, Imqabba, Qrendi, Safi, and Żurrieq, amongst others, to depart from and come back to their homes on a daily basis. This connection is also crucial when going to the Malta International Airport.

Works are also ongoing in Mġarr near the schools located in the Żebbiegħ area. Improvement works on the connection between Marsa Road and Ingiered Road, in the area of the Marsa Race Course and St Vincent de Paule Residence have begun with the intention of improving safety and reducing the risk of accidents.

Commenting on these developments, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg explained that Transport Malta is seeing to finishing the majority of these works before the start of the new scholastic year when the number of drivers on the road starts increasing again. “We are insisting on not wasting any time where improvements can be made immediately. I have asked Transport Malta to make sure that works which can be done this summer, start as soon as possible. We have also insisted on giving full attention to minimising the impact on road works on residents, drivers and other persons who use or live in the vicinity of these roads. I thank Transport Malta officials and its contractors for doing their utmost so that every project is concluded in the shortest time possible”.

“We are not only working on road improvements. We understand that the difficulties we face on our roads do not only require infrastructural projects. We acknowledge that traffic is an inconvenience for thousands of persons every day, and we also realise that it creates huge environmental challenges. We are working on initiatives towards cleaner and more efficient transport systems for our country. We are therefore considering how we can incentivise more people to use cleaner modes of transport, such as the extension of the grant scheme on the purchase of electric vehicles, which happened a few days ago”.

“This is work that needs to be continuous, and we need to stay committed to it so that the public can finally benefit from an improved quality of life”, concluded Minister Ian Borg.

Source- Independent

July 11, 2017

ONLY 10 percent of the surfaced (tarred) national road network is in good condition, with 30 percent in poor condition while 57 percent is in fair condition, a senior Government official has said.

About 3 percent of the road network has been unclassified, 1 percent of gravel and earth roads were certified to be in good condition, 22 percent was in fair condition, 72 percent was said to be in poor condition while five percent was unclassified at this stage.

In response to this situation, Government has initiated a number of road rehabilitation projects, including building new ones. Some of the road rehabilitation projects initiated through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development include. . .

Tenders will be awarded on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Harare-Nyamapanda and Rutenga-Boli-Sango roads before the end of this year.

Currently, feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs are underway for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road and should be completed by August this year, after which tenders will be floated.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo said Government had made significant investment into the road network and more funds would be channelled towards infrastructure. The minister said about $300 million had so far been channelled into infrastructure development, including road rehabilitation.

"Some $13,28 million was spent on rehabilitation and maintenance of road infrastructure in 2015 and $11,44 million in 2016. At the same time, rehabilitation of the Plumtree-Mutare road was done from 2012 to 2016 at a cost of $206 million," said Dr Gumbo.

"In the aviation sector, the major investment has been upgrading of Victoria Falls Airport in the last three years to December 2016, at a cost of about $150 million. There was also some money spent on rehabilitation of the runway at Harare International Airport," he said.


All the road works were funded by the Zimbabwe National Road Authority and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

"There has been no private financing of transport infrastructure development since the New Limpopo Bridge in 1994 and Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway (BBR) in 1998.

"The Plumtree-Mutare project was financed through a loan obtained by ZINARA from DBSA (of South Africa). Victoria Falls Airport was financed by a loan to Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe from China," said Dr Gumbo.

Minister Gumbo said the National Railways of Zimbabwe also carried out some rehabilitation work on the national railway network.

The condition of the country's road network had deteriorated since the last condition survey in 2010. At that time, 20 percent of the national road network was assessed to be in good condition, 30 percent in fair condition and 50 percent in poor condition. Ongoing road projects include the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway, including the Harare Ring Road.

"The construction team has started arriving from China, and construction is expected to start in September this year," he said.

"We are also going to construct Phase 2 of the Harare International Airport Road. The late commencement has been due to delays in carrying out the required feasibility study. Again this will be done and project implementation will commence before the end of the year." the Minister added.

More funds, especially foreign direct investment, could have been channelled towards road projects, among other infrastructure development projects, but lack of appropriate and adequate legislation governing Public Private Partnerships was a hindrance.

"However, we now have the Joint Venture Act, and we trust that from now on we will be able to attract significant levels of FDI in transport infrastructure development," the Minister added.

Source - Bulawayo

June 29, 2017

£165m roads project facing legal challenge


A long-awaited £165m roads project for Belfast is now facing a legal challenge, it has emerged.

Around eight years after it was first announced, cash was finally earmarked for the York Street Interchange development as part of the DUP's £1bn deal with the Tories.

But now, a legal challenge, which has been confirmed by the Department for Infrastructure, over the awarding of the main construction contract, could delay the scheme further.

DUP Tory deal new £1bn allocation breakdown - where will the money go in Northern Ireland?

The Department has said that “the tender process to appoint a contractor to bring the scheme to a construction ready stage has now been completed... however, tender award cannot occur at present due to a legal challenge. The legal process is ongoing.”

The interchange is intended to solve the Belfast's increasing traffic problems.

It aimed to transform traffic flow where the Westlink, M2 and M3 converge.

The bulk of the cash needed to build it, around 40%, was originally due to come from the EU.

The upgrade of the York Street Interchange aims to tackle the traffic gridlock which occurs daily.

As Northern Ireland's busiest junction, it carries 100,000 vehicles daily, mostly commuters to and from Belfast from around Co Antrim.

It was revealed this week that part of a £1bn fiscal package for Northern Ireland as part of the DUP deal with the Conservatives, will include £400m for infrastructure. And as part of that, money will be freed up for the York Street Interchange.

At the end of last year, former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard accepted a recommendation from a public inquiry that the York Street Interchange scheme should progress in principle but reiterated warnings that Brexit had placed a question mark over funding.

Speaking about the project, Wesley Johnston, an expert on Northern Ireland's roads, has said that commuters can still expect delays at the York Street interchange even after work has been completed.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

February 17, 2017

Bitumen in Road Construction

Bitumen is used in road construction due to various properties and advantages it has over other pavement construction materials. Advantages of bitumen for road construction is discussed.

Why is Bitumen Used in Road Construction?

Bitumen gain certain unique properties that are inbuilt in it during its manufacture. The bitumen as a raw material in flexible road construction and bitumen as a mix (composing other materials i.e. aggregates/ pozzolans) serves certain advantages, that prompt to use bitumen widely in road construction.


Use of Bitumen in Flexible Road Construction

The reason behind the significant application of bitumen in flexible pavements are explained below:

1. Production of Bitumen is economical

Bitumen is a by-product of crude oil distillation process. Crude oil itself is a composition of hydrocarbons. The primary products that are available are the petrol, diesel, high octane fuels and gasoline.
When these fuels are refined from the crude oil, the bitumen is left behind. Further treatment of by-product, to make it free from impurities give pure bitumen.
As the primary product demand is of utmost importance to the society, the bitumen as a by product has survival for long. This by product is utilized as a new construction material, without going for any other new resource.

2. Physical and Rheological Properties of Bitumen bring Versatility

The physical and the chemical properties of Bitumen are found to be a function of load level, temperature and the duration of loading. It is a thermoplastic and viscoelastic material.
These dependencies make us to truly access the traffic on the road so that a bitumen mix properties can be varied based on the stress levels calculated. This versatility of bitumen results in a large variety of bitumen mix, based on the road application.

3. The Melting Point of Bitumen is low

It is highly appreciable about the fact that bitumen has a favorable melting point, that helps in both surface dressing and wearing resistance with ease.
The melting point of the bitumen should not be too high, that it can be melted easily during laying the pavement. At the same time, bitumen has a melting point, which would not let the already casted road pave to melt and deform under high temperatures.
In areas of high temperatures, along with this quality of bitumen, the aggregate composition helps to cover up the effect of large temperature.

4. Bitumen can undergo Recycling

As the melting point of bitumen is favorable, it can be melted back to its original state. This is called as asphalt recycling process.
The torn-up asphalt pieces are taken up to the recycling plant, instead of sending them to landfills. This recycled mix can be reused. If necessary, the old bitumen is mixed with new bitumen and new aggregates to make the mix live again.

5. Bitumen gain Adhesive Nature

As explained in the production of bitumen, it is free from hydrocarbon and hence not toxic. The by product is refined to maximum to get rid of organic materials and impurities.
The bitumen has a highly adhesive nature, which keeps the materials in the road mix bind together under strong bonds. These become stronger when the mix is set i.e. ready for vehicle movement.

6. Bitumen has Color Variety

The traditional bitumen is black in color. This is because the dense organic material within bitumen is black in color. Now, when certain pigments are added to bitumen, the color of our choice can be obtained. These are colored bitumen.
It is costly than the normal colored bitumen. The disadvantage of colored bitumen is that it requires more chemical additives and materials.

Requirements of Bitumen Mixes for Road Construction

An overall bitumen mix is used in the construction of flexible pavement to serve the following needs.
  • Structural Strength
  • Surface Drainage
  • Surface Friction

Structural Strength of Bituminous Pavements

The figure below shows a typical cross section of flexible pavement, that was developed in the USA. The structural bitumen layer composes of:
  • Bituminous surface or wearing course
  • Bituminous binder course
  • Bituminous base course
The primary purpose of these bitumen mixes is structural strength provision. This involves even load dispersion throughout the layers of the pavement. The loads involved are dynamic or static loads, which is transferred to the base subgrade through the aggregate course.
A granular base with a bituminous surface course is only provided for roads of low traffic. It is just sufficient and economical.
The rebounding effect of bitumen upper layers helps in having resistance against high dynamic effect due to the heavy traffic. Rebounding property is reflected by the stiffness and the flexibility characteristics of the bitumen top layers. When looking from bottom to top, the flexibility characteristics should increase.
Studies have shown that the above mentioned characteristics of aggregates are attained using densely graded bitumen mixes. This mix should make use of nominal maximum size aggregate (NMAS), that must decrease from the base course- binder course – surface course.
The nominal maximum size aggregate (NMAS) = One sieve larger than first sieve-to retain more than 10% of combined aggregate.
There is a higher amount of bitumen content in the wearing course, that make the layer more flexible. This would help in increasing the durability.

Surface Drainage of Bituminous Pavements

Subsurface drainage can be facilitated using granular sub base in the construction of flexible pavement. Permeable asphalt treated base (PATB) can be used to provided positive surface drainage in major highways. This would behave as a separate course for facilitating subsurface drainage.

Surface Friction of Bituminous Roads

It is essential for the pavement layer to provide enough skid resistance and friction, during vehicle passage, especially in wet condition. This would ensure the safety of the passengers. The macro and the micro surface texture of the asphalt mix contributes towards the surface friction.

The mix gradation i.e. open graded or dense graded will contribute to macro surface texture. The open graded mix have higher macro surface than dense graded. The water is squeezed out from the bottom of vehicle tire when the high macro surface texture is implemented.
The micro surface texture is contributed by the aggregate surface, that is exposed when the above bitumen layer is torn.

Advantages of Bituminous Road Construction Over Concrete Pavements

1. A smooth Ride Surface

It does not make use of any joints; Hence provide a smooth surface to ride. It also gives less sound emission when compared with concrete pavements. The wear and tear are less in the bituminous pavement, thus maintaining the smoothness.

2. Gradual Failure

The deformation and the failure in the bituminous pavement is a gradual process. The concrete pavement shows brittle failures.

3. Quick Repair

They have an option to be repaired to be quick. They don’t consume time in reverting the path for traffic; as they set fast.

4. Staged Construction

This helps in carrying out staged construction in a situation when problems of fund constraint or traffic estimation problems are faced.

5. Life Cost is Less

The initial cost and overall maintenance cost of bituminous pavement are less compared to concrete pavement.

6. Temperature Resistant

They act resistant against high temperature from melting and are not affected by de-icing materials.

Disadvantages of Bituminous Pavement

  1. Bituminous pavements are less durable
  2. Low tensile strength compared to concrete pavement
  3. Extreme weather and improper weather conditions tend to make bituminous pavement slick and soft.
  4. Bitumen with impurities can cause pollution to soil, hence ground water by their melting. These may have hydrocarbons in small amounts.
  5. Clogging of pores and drainage path during construction and service life
  6. More salting- to prevent snow during winter season
  7. Cost of construction high during extreme conditions of temperature

Source - enggfeed