14 May 2008
The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has awarded seven contracts for the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement project, which will see 125.5 kilometres of highways in the highly urbanised province being upgraded at a cost of R11.5-billion.
“Traffic in the Gauteng area has reached the stage where heavy congestion inhibits economic growth, leads to frustration and loss of productivity of road users, and damages the environment through excessive emissions,” said Sanral in a statement last week.
These follow an earlier contract awarded for the upgrade of the N1 between the R21 interchange and Atterbury Interchange, east of Pretoria, where construction is currently well under way.
Over the next 36 months, contractors appointed by Sanral will upgrade the N1 from Soweto to the N4 in Pretoria, the N3 from Alberton to Buccleuch, sections of the N12 south of Johannesburg, as well as the N12 from Gillooly’s interchange to the R21 to Boksburg.
“The project is an example of co-operation through the various spheres of government, with involvement of Ekhuruleni (East Rand), Tshwane (Greater Pretoria) and Johannesburg metros, the provincial and national governments,” Sanral pointed out.
Works ‘substantially’ complete for 2010
While the highway upgrades have been prioritised to ensure substantial completion ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, a temporary suspension in remaining works has been scheduled between 28 May and 14 July 2010, as not to disrupt traffic flow during the tournament.
The project will involve the provision of additional lanes, interchange improvements and implementing an intelligent transport management system – which involves highway cameras, ramp metering and electronic signage.
The newly upgraded highways will include high occupancy vehicle lanes, which can be integrated with routes used by bus rapid transport systems, buses, trains and taxis, to promote the use of public transport.
Although disruption to traffic is to be expected during the construction phase, the agency is to make every attempt to minimise disruption, and to keep the maximum number of lanes open, particularly at peak hours.
Bearing the safety of both road users and construction workers in mind, the agency is urging the public to drive carefully through construction sites that will be policed, adhere to temporary speed limits and not to slow down to look at construction activities.
“The long-term benefits will more than compensate for the temporary inconvenience of construction activities and we appeal to the public to exercise extreme caution on the entire network during construction,” Sanral said.
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