Progress on the Huguenot Tunnel upgrades on the N1 are progressing well with much of the work being conducted under live traffic conditions so as to lessen the impact on road users.
According to Randall Cable, SANRAL’s Western Region manager, the upgrades are necessary as, after 31 years of continuous and safe operation, the electrical and mechanical systems have neared end of life and are in need of replacement to ensure compliance to international safety standards.
- The following work has already been completed:
- 11Kv line replacement between the tunnel and Main Control Centre (MCC)
- Installation of back-up generator at MCC
- North-bore water-main replacement
- Replacement of MCC fire detection and suppression system.
- The team is currently busy with the following processes, some of which are nearly complete:
- South-bore water-main replacement.
- MCC water-main replacement.
- MCC building redecoration and upgrade of ablution facilities.
- Replacement of VMS signs on the approaches and in the tunnel.
- Replacement of all electronic signage in the tunnel.
- Installation of Tetra Emergency radio system in the tunnel.
The old Du Toit’s Kloof Pass – the R101 – which will act as the primary alternate route during the week day, night time Huguenot Tunnel closures, will also receive a facelift with the installation of additional road signs to better indicate passing opportunities as well LED road studs along the entire centre line of the pass. This work will be completed before the end of the year to aid night time travellers using the pass.
- “While it may appear to the average traveller that nothing has changed, much of the current work is done behind the scenes,” says Cable, adding that as soon as current operations are completed, the next stage will include the following, some of which will have to occur during the planned closure:
- Replacement of the tunnel FM radio re-broadcast system.
- Upgrade of the tunnel PA system.
- 6.6/11 kV Switchgear upgrade/replacement.
- Replacement of the tunnel fire detection system. While this will be started under live traffic conditions, some of it will only be completed during the scheduled closure.
Originally the off-peak maintenance closures were scheduled to start in late September 2019 but are now scheduled to commence in middle January 2020. “The off-peak closures are to allow for the completion of the remaining works which will not be possible under live traffic conditions. This will last approximately four months,” says Cable.
The times of closure remain as previously communicated, i.e. the tunnel will be closed to traffic from 10pm to 6am, Monday to Thursday. “This is when traffic volumes through the tunnel are at its lowest. This means that the tunnel will be fully open weekdays from 6am till 10pm as well as 24 hours from Friday to Sunday, for all road users,” explains Cable.
Truckers are reminded of the alternative routes which include Paarl – DuToit’s Kloof Pass –Worcester (±62 km); Paarl – Gouda – Tulbagh – Worcester (±121 km) or Wellington – Tulbagh – Ceres (± 74 km.) Depending on origin and destination, the N2 Grabouw to Villiersdorp (41 km) is also an option.
“Where unforeseen changes to the schedule are necessitated, we will communicate these as soon as possible to ensure that road users are fully informed of the work being carried out and the effects this may have on traffic flow,” Cable assures us.
FleetWatch loves it when we see maintenance activities such as this going on for it reminds us of the late US President JF Kennedy’s statement: “It’s not our strong economy that gave us goods roads. It’s our good roads that gave us a strong economy.” Yeah!