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Sanral to upgrade N3, if it gets R15bn

Nov 27 2015 09:33
Kailene Pillay, The Witness

Cars on the N3 near Cedara at a standstill due to an accident near the Peter Brown offramp. Some drivers tried to do U-turns on the highway to try find alternative routes. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - The R15bn upgrade of the N3 from Durban to Pietermaritzburg has been given the green light.

However, the South African Roads Agency (Sanral) has not yet secured the funds to build the road.

The decision on whether the upgrade would include tolls and whether a ring road around Pietermaritzburg would be implemented is still being considered due to “funding limitations”.

But if the upgrades do not go ahead experts believe users of the N3 will continue to suffer losses of near R800 million due to accidents and delays.

The team from Sanral presented their update at yesterday’s Msunduzi executive committee meeting at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

Project nanager of Sanral Ravi Ronny said they are also looking at long term projected traffic and the growth in heavy vehicles on the roads.

“As it is Cato Ridge has only two lanes, which causes major traffic congestion — especially when heavy duty vehicles are on the road. We are looking at adding two lanes on either side there,” said Ronny.

In March 2014, The Witness reported that the Pietermaritzburg N3 re-routing is part of a plan for the entire Durban-Free State-Gauteng Corridor to eliminate bottlenecks at Key Ridge (between Cato Ridge and Durban), Townhill (within Pietermaritzburg) and Van Reenen’s Pass — all notorious accident and congestion points.

Ronny said the route has national strategic importance with the road’s realignment being on the cards since the 1970s.

“The N3 carries between 40 000 and 120 000 vehicles per day with a mix of urban commuter traffic, long distance traffic and substantial heavy vehicles. The N3 corridor carries in excess of 40 million tons of freight per annum with currently approximately 9 000 heavy vehicles per day,” said Ronny.

While, the land acquisition and environmental processes with specialist studies have commenced, public participation is on hold until funding is sourced. The option to include a tunnel bypassing Townhill in Pietermaritzburg is still being considered.

Ronny added that without the N3 upgrade it would cost the public R775 million per annum in lost time.

“The closure of the N3 due to accidents currently results in a loss of between R250 000 and R295 000 per hour to the public in lost time,” he said.

CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Melanie Veness said she would only comment on the upgrades after she sees the presentation and plans for herself next month.

“There are some things I would need to clarify first when I see the presentation then I would be able to make a more informed comment,” said Veness.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

THE upgrade will see the additions of two or three lanes per direction on the road resulting in an eight- to 10-lane freeway over a distance of 84 km.

It will also include the upgrade of 27 interchanges, including Ohrtmann Road, New England Road, Market Road, Lynnfield Park and Ashburton interchanges. About 95 underpass and overpass bridges are also expected to be upgraded.

Although Sanral project manager Ravi Ronny said funding is still to be confirmed, once the project is underway, it will take 36 to 42 months to be constructed.

pietermaritzburg  |  sanral
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