A new tunnel is being planned to connect Malta with Gozo. This comes after many years of discussions over the feasibility of the project.
Building the 13km link could cost some US$300 million. The proposed link will be for a tunnel with a single lane in either direction and a central divider for safety. The link is expected to carry around 6,500 vehicles/day. However traffic is anticipated to grow to some 9,000 vehicles/day.
The construction of the tunnel will help improve tourism for Gozo in particular. At present visitors have to use the ferry service.
Firms that are competing for the tender are: WeBuild (formerly Salini Impregilo); The CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium, headed by China Communications Construction (CCCC); a Maltest consortium, Malta Gozo Fixed Link Limited, a consortium made up of Maltese investors; French firm Egis in partnership with Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol and financing from UK company Equitix and Japanese company Itochu.
Drivers using the link would have to pay tolls, which would provide the basis for the financing. At present the plans envisage the project to be offered as a 20-year concession package. Driving the link should take three years, with another year required to complete the tunnel infrastructure and construction is intended to commence in 2021.
The tunnel's traffic lanes will be 3.2-3.5m-wide and the link is intended to have a 1m-wide central section. The design also calls for 1m-wide shoulders at either side. Around 1 million m3 of spoil will have to be removed during the tunnel drive. There are concerns that the project will result in harm to archeological relics at the Maltese end of the route.