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Malta to Gozo tunnel ‘will be open by 2024’

You’ll be able to drive direct from St Paul’s Bay to Nadur within five years.

Joseph Muscat has revealed that detailed plans for a tunnel under the sea connecting Malta and Gozo will be made public before the summer.

The Prime Minister said a free bus service was also being planned to operate via the Gozo to Malta tunnel, linking Victoria to key locations such as Valletta, Mater Dei Hospital and Malta Airport.

He said: ‘Imagine getting on a bus in Victoria and having one direct link to key locations in Malta, and we are saying this is going to be free for the public.’

Dr Muscat said that offering a free bus system would act as an incentive for people to not use their private cars to travel through the tunnel.

Malta’s transport minister Ian Borg told 89.7 Bay that the detailed proposals would be ready ‘within six months’, with the tunnel expected to open by 2024.

He said:  ‘We’ve already shown that when we talk about major projects, we deliver.

‘This is why we’re credible when we talk about delivering this Malta-Gozo link.’

Dr Borg said the tender for the design, building, maintenance, and operation of the tunnel will be published before summer.

The plans will lead to the creation of a 13km-long tunnel with one traffic lane heading in either direction, with an additional safety lane.

Studies predict that around 6,500 cars and lorries will use the tunnel on a daily basis.

A railway line or metro system has already been ruled out as ‘not viable’  by transport officials.

It is expected to open by 2024 and will link L-Imbordin on the outskirts of St Paul’s Bay to the Ta’ Kenuna area of Nadur.

Business leaders welcomed the announcement, arguing the tunnel was ‘essential’ for Gozo’s economic growth.

The Gozo Business Chamber said it hoped the process ‘would continue unabated’.

The chamber’s former chairman Michael Grech predicted the tunnel would bring economic prosperity to Gozo as well as boosting tourism all year round.

He added: ‘We don’t want Gozo to become another Bugibba. We don’t want high rise buildings over here.

‘We still want to keep the character of Gozo.’

The news comes despite concerns from some Gozo residents that the island will be ‘ruined forever’ by a permanent link.

Read more: The Gozo Business