Pos­i­tive re­sponse to pro­posed N3 up­grades

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA COLE

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.

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