Sunday, October 17, 2010

A lost road in Malta

Annaliza Borg in the Malta Independent Online: The Ghadira road, part of which caved in last Monday, was built directly on a sand dune without much attention to the underlying geology, The Malta Independent on Sunday has learnt. It may truly be lost if climate change is not taken seriously and geological studies are not carried out.

Lack of attention to surface and subsurface geology is widespread in Malta and explains why our roads are of such poor quality, said geologist Peter Gatt, when contacted. The part of Marfa Road opposite the beach was built directly on a sand dune.

“A relatively thin layer of asphalt over unbound aggregate cannot withstand traffic load especially when the underlying sand has shifted,” Mr Gatt pointed out. The high water pressure from a leaking water pipe may have caused some liquefaction and erosion of the sand. The sand flowed away through cracks or along the perimeter of the road leaving a void under the asphalt.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the road surface caved in when a bus was driving over it. No one was hurt in the incident, the circumstances of which were identical to those of another unpleasant situation in May 2005, when a coachload of tourists was involved.

This week’s incident has nonetheless spurred comments about the proposed controversial road project that the government shelved at the end of October last year. The government had announced the road project months before, generating controversy mainly because many argued that the nature reserve and Foresta 2000 would be compromised if a new road was built through it.

Mellieha mayor Robert Cutajar is calling for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to conclude its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) documentation on the Ghadira Road as the beach was “becoming smaller by the hour”….

The Ghadira nature preserve in Malta. Just guessing, but that might be the road in question to the left of the image. Shot by Inkwina, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: