4 July 2007
South Africa is to spend R22-billion over the next seven years on upgrading and expanding the freeways in its busiest province, Gauteng. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2008, following an environmental impact assessment.
According to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), growth in vehicle ownership in Gauteng has led to heavy congestion, especially on the N1, where over 180 000 vehicles travel between Johannesburg and Pretoria daily.
The agency said congestion on main routes has affected the amount of time families spend together, productivity in the workplace, individual levels of frustration and stress on the environment due to excessive emissions.
“We hope to finance the whole scheme through tolling. Therefore, all upgraded freeways will be tolled,” said Sanral’s northern region project manager, Alex van Niekerk.
Sanral communications manager Priya Pillay told BuaNews that new technologies such as electronic toll collection systems would be used to allow for a smoother flow of traffic
“[Its] just like a pillar across the road that bills you automatically when you drive past,” she said, adding: “We are still busy working it out and the price is not yet finalised.”
Pillay said the toll would only be implemented after 2010, and the agency was sure there would be discounts for regular users
According to Sanral, they are working with the Gauteng provincial government and the three metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane to optimise movement of freight and road-based public transport.
“The current priorities [for upgrading] are the N1 from Soweto to the N4 in Pretoria, the N12 between Gillooly’s and Benoni, and the R21 airport road,” Van Niekerk said.
Intelligent transport systems
He added that some routes did not require widening at the moment, such as the N4. However, the freeway would be equipped with intelligent transport devices such as cameras and electronic signs, as seen on the N1 between the Brakfontein and Buccleuch interchanges, as well as more lighting.
The project also entails the construction of an interconnected network of inner and outer ring roads around the three metros, extending over 500 kilometres, which are to be completed in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Part of the project includes the implementation of inter-modal transport hubs to surface and rail based public transport facilities.
Sanral will also promote concepts such as travel demand management through the provision of dedicated, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and associated infrastructure.
Van Niekerk said, however, that the HOV concept would be different from previous experiments, as when existing lanes between the Buccleuch and Allandale interchanges were converted into HOV lanes.
“The lanes added to the freeway will become HOV lanes,” he said.
The construction of new freeways such as the PWV 14, PWV 9, PWV 5 and N17 will go ahead after 2010, the agency added.