Positive response to proposed N3 upgrades
THE widening and upgrade of the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg could take six to eight years and would involve acquiring some people’s land.
“There are some properties that are seriously affected by the land acquisition that will be required and these will need to be dealt with on a case-bycase basis by Sanral’s property division,” said Ravi Ronny, the SA National Roads Agency’s eastern region design and construction manager, after three days of public hearings at Cato Ridge, Camperdown and Pietermaritzburg on the proposed improvements.
Compensation would have to be negotiated, Sanral said yesterday.
There was generally “a positive response” to the proposed upgrades on the 84km stretch between the EB Cloete interchange in Durban and Twickenham Road in Pietermaritzburg from the 150 interested and affected people at the public hearings, but “where people are directly affected in terms of their properties, they are obviously concerned,” Ronny said.
Other fears related to the noise during construction and from the increased traffic after all the improvements, as well as disruptions because of the construction.
The N3 corridor was essential if one of the government’s strategic integrated projects linking the port of Durban with Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland, was to succeed, Ronny said.
If the upgrades did not go ahead, it was estimated that N3 users would continue to suffer losses of R800 million a year, the result of accidents and time delays. About R775m of this could be attributed to time delays and between R250 000 and R295 000 per hour to accidents and road closures due to accidents. And these estimates were already five years old, Sanral said.
Any blockage on the N3 causing its closure was tantamount to a national crisis, Ronny said.
The N3 around Pietermaritzburg carried more than 40 000 vehicles a day, consisting of a mix of urban commuter traffic, long-distance traffic and substantial heavy vehicles “with some sections in excess of 25% heavy vehicles”.
More than 75 million tons of freight a year was carried on the corridor with about 9 000 heavy vehicles using the national road daily.
Durban was one of the country’s busiest ports with more than 80% of goods moving along the corridor by road.
“The need to consider the best economic solutions to ensure the seamless flow of freight is very important to this corridor,” Ronny said.
The upgrades would mean an additional two to three lanes in each direction as well as substantial interchange reconfigurations to accommodate future traffic growth and improve safety.
Although the widening will be done in the existing median and road reserve, the plan called for the acquisition of additional land in some areas.
A new road would be cut at the busy Key Ridge area and the project would also involve the modification of existing bridges, crossroads and drainage, and construction of some new infrastructure .
An artist’s impression of the proposed realignment of Key Ridge, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.