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SANRAL's R360 million upgrading of PE-Despatch road hits half-way mark

Jun 13, 2018
SANRAL's R360 million upgrading of PE-Despatch road hits half-way mark

The R75 section 1 rehabilitation and safety measurement improvements project currently taking place between Port Elizabeth and Despatch, has reached its half-way mark, the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Ltd (SANRAL) announced.

The R316 million project is on one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s primary arterial roads. The R75 connects some of the oldest suburbs and townships along the route and is a vital link between Port Elizabeth and the industrial areas of Uitenhage and Despatch.

SANRAL took ownership of the R75 after it was declared a national road in April 2012. As part of its mandate, SANRAL is responsible for maintaining this important road infrastructure.

“Route R75, one of the major National Roads within the Eastern Cape interior, is the primary arterial road for Algoa Park, Zwide, Zinyoka (Govan Mbeki), Veeplaas, Missionvale, New Brighton, KwaDwesi, KwaDwesi Extension, KwaMagxaki, Joe Slovo and Despatch, acting as the public transport link between both ends,” said Mbulelo Peterson, SANRAL Southern Region Manager.

The average daily traffic on this road ranges from between approximately 6100 and 7100 vehicles per day in the northbound direction, and an average of between 5500 and 5900 vehicles per day in the southbound direction. The average percentage of heavy vehicles to make use of the road is around 8.5%. This means that around 500 trucks use this road in each direction every day.

Current construction is focused on rehabilitating the previously poor condition of the road surface as well as improving pedestrian safety, specifically for scholars crossing the very busy route.

There are in excess of 4598 (2659 adults and 1939 children) pedestrians making use of the road, 42% of them being school going children frequenting the Khwezi Lomso High School (Zwide), Thyilulwazi Primary School (Zwide), Gareth Primary School (Zwide), KwaMagxaki High School (KwaMagxaki), Lungisa High School (KwaDwesi) and Nelson Mandela University (Missionvale Campus) situated on either side of the road.

“The poor road condition prior to the rehabilitation required constant patchwork repairs. Pedestrian facility improvements are a major requirement of this project as pedestrian movements are largely uncontrolled and unsafe. In addition, this section of road has been recognised as having some of the highest pedestrian accident numbers in the Eastern Cape,” Peterson said.

Due to the nature of the safety improvements required – namely improvements to both the interchange and pedestrian bridge positions – and, in order to expedite construction, the project was sub-divided into two phases:

  • Phase 1, which is currently in construction consists of road rehabilitation and minor safety measures to improve pedestrian mobility and safety along the R75 between residential and industrial areas. The Phase 2 project will deal with the major safety improvements on the project.
  • Phase 2, will consist of an upgrade to the Commercial Road interchange and the construction of a pedestrian bridge. This phase is expected to be constructed in the next three years.

The scope of work for the project entails road rehabilitation works, drainage infrastructure and pedestrian safety and fencing and erecting guardrails. A more detailed explanation for each portion follows below.

Road rehabilitation works

Due to the poor condition of the road and the strategic importance of this road as a corridor between Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth, it was important to rehabilitate the road structure to last for a further 20 years. The rehabilitation works include the recycling of the existing road substructure and applying a new asphalt surfacing.  The asphalt surfacing is very durable, will improve the rideability of the road and reduce noise pollution.

Drainage Infrastructure

Drainage infrastructure along the entire route will be improved.  Drainage infrastructure improvements includes the:

  • shaping or clearing of blocked drainage systems;
  • installation of kerbs at all intersections and along the first 5km of the road;
  • installation of subsurface drainage in cut areas; and
  • installation of concrete side drains in cut areas.

Pedestrian Safety and Fencing

Dangerous conditions along the R75 including uncontrolled crossing of pedestrians, animals and vehicles have been a major cause for concern. Following this rehabilitation and road safety project these movements will be prohibited and only allowed where it is safe and where deemed necessary.

An anti-climb fence system is being constructed along the R75 road reserve where no fences are currently in place. This will help to prevent vehicles and pedestrians from gaining access to the busy R75 road at any point. Access to the road for pedestrians will be provided at intersections and at pre-defined intermediate pedestrian crossings.

An assessment of the road in March 2016 revealed that the existing pedestrian walkways were substandard and in a very poor condition. Additionally, at many sections along the route there was no presence of pedestrian walkways. Therefore, new pedestrian walkways will be constructed along the length of the route. The walkways will generally be 2m wide, reduced to 1.5m where limited pedestrian traffic is expected and space is restricted.

Guardrails

Due to level changes to the road following rehabilitation, all existing guardrails will be removed and if re-usable, will be stored for re-erection.

New and re-usable guardrails will be installed adjacent to both sides of the north and southbound carriageways to prevent vehicular traffic from making illegal crossings of the road and to prevent U-turn manoeuvres in the median. Openings will be provided in the median guardrails for emergency vehicle access and pedestrian crossings.

The implementation of road safety measures and rehabilitation of the National Route R75 Section 1, constitutes 13 kilometres and will create work for a minimum of 37 local SMMEs between 1CE PE and 6 CE PE CIDB grading within the Nelson Mandela Bay.

This two-year project should be completed in May 2019.