5 June 2014
The City of Johannesburg is moving to overcome one of the legacies of apartheid spatial planning in an innovative way, with plans to build a cycling and pedestrian walkway – including a bridge over Africa’s busiest highway – connecting Alexandra township with the business hub of Sandton.
The walkway will provide safe passage between the township and the Sandton CBD, reducing travel times and traffic accidents for approximately 10 000 Alexandra residents who, it is estimated, currently walk over five kilometres to and from work each day.
Construction on the walkway, which will join No 3 Square in Alexandra with Sandton near the Grayston Avenue Bridge along Katherine Street and include a pedestrian and cycling bridge across the M1 highway, could begin as early as September.
Announcing the plan at the end of last month, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) CEO Thanduxolo Mendrew said the bridge would be an “iconic” addition to Johannesburg’s skyline, similar to that of the Nelson Mandela Bridge.
“The city’s Nelson Mandela Bridge has become one of the iconic structures of the southern gateway, and this bridge will equally change the city skyline as an important northern gateway,” Mendrew said in a statement. “At the same time it will serve as an important link between Sandton and Alexandra, to show that the futures of these areas are inherently connected.”
Mendrew said that careful thought had gone into designing the bridge, as the JDA needed to come up with something that “spoke to the concept of the Corridors of Freedom.
“In 2013 the executive mayor introduced the Corridors of Freedom as areas where there can be walking, cycling and public transport which is safe, reliable and affordable. This bridge satisfies that basic need that talks to citizens’ rights to a spatially integrated city.”
Mendrew said the Alexandra-Sandton walkway would form part of phase 1c of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, which will connect Alexandra both to Johannesburg central as well as to Sandton.
Construction on this phase is under way and is expected to be implemented from 2015, along with other infrastructure updgrades along the route.
“In Alexandra, 30.2-kilometres of pavements for walking and cycling will be upgraded and improved,” the JDA said. “Traffic calming measures and street furniture along roads adjacent to the BRT and along feeder routes will also be introduced, and a new bus depot will be constructed along Vincent Tshabalala Road in Alexandra.”