Truckers using the N3 Toll Route will be pleased to hear that N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) has kicked off the year with the announcement that it is set to invest more than R1-billion in the rehabilitation and expansion of the route over the next three years. Further good news is that that this investment will be funded by N3TC with no additional tolling required.
The N3 Toll Route, which links South Africa’s inland provinces with the port of Durban, is considered to be one the country’s most strategic freight and logistics corridors. It is also one of the country’s busiest trucking routes and it is encouraging for the industry to see action being taken to ensure improved safety standards and service levels along the route. N3TC manages a portion of the route between the Cedara interchange near Hilton (KwaZulu-Natal) and Heidelberg South interchange (Gauteng),
N3TC’s road rehabilitation management strategy determines the appropriate time for rehabilitation activities. As a result of high traffic volumes, this programme typically follows an eight-year cycle. Roads carrying lower traffic volumes have a lifespan of almost double that – approximately 15 years.
Work on a R444-million rehabilitation project started between Mooi River and Estcourt in 2013 and will be completed towards the end of 2015. The left lane – or truck lane – is being rehabilitated and the project includes a new asphalt pavement surface to all lanes on this section.
A new rehabilitation project between Harrismith and Warden will start this month – January 2015. This 60km section will be reconstructed at a cost of R413-million. The existing road surface in both directions will be reconstructed and will receive a new asphalt overlay. Roadmac Surfacing has been contracted to perform the reconstruction while SNA Consulting Engineers designed the project and will oversee the execution of the project. It is expected to be completed by April 2017.
N3TC is aware of the disruption road construction may cause to the free flow of traffic and to limit inconvenience to road users, the company and its contractors have agreed to limit single lane closures in either direction for construction activity to 3km sections at a time.
“There will, at all times, be at least one lane open to traffic to regulate the flow of traffic while construction is underway. Therefore, no undue delays are anticipated. Traffic will be accommodated contra-flow in the lanes where construction is not underway at a specific time. This will also allow for a safe working space for contract workers,” says N3TC’s technical manager, Douglas Judd.
Careful consideration has been given to the time frames of the road works programme to ensure all four lanes are open to traffic at peak times such as Easter and long weekends.
The most complex of the three construction projects – from Cedara to Tweedie near Howick – will start in August 2015. This R400-million expansion project, which spans over 14km of the N3 Toll Route, should be completed within 24 months. Two additional traffic lanes, one in each direction, will be constructed in the existing median to increase the route’s capacity in this high traffic zone and the Umngeni River Bridge will be expanded as part of this project.
“N3TC is implementing this expansion well in advance of its actual capacity requirement in order to minimise the impact on heavier traffic in later years,” says Judd.
As with the other construction projects, a comprehensive traffic management programme will be put in place to minimise disruption and inconvenience to road users. As construction will be taking place in the median, N3TC will ensure that the flow of traffic is not compromised.
“We are confident that we can deliver infrastructure of a high standard which will not only meet but exceed the need for a safe and convenient road link,” says Judd.
While road construction is always a hassle for truckers let us, instead of getting irritated, cheer the construction guys when we pass as a thanks for making sure our roads are in good condition and therefore safer and more efficient for all road users. Save your shouting and irritation for the provinces which are not maintaining their roads. Remember what the late John Kennedy, President of the USA said: “It’s not our strong economy that gave us our good roads. It’s our good roads that gave us our strong economy.”