Construction work is underway to upgrade the N4 toll road along the Crocodile Gorge section of the route and TRAC has warned of delays along the route. This section is the only national road link between Nelspruit, Malalane and the Lebombo Border Post to Mozambique.
The existing road is being rehabilitated and an additional 8 kilometres of passing lanes will be constructed. The road will also receive a new asphalt surface. The total cost of this project is R287-million and the duration of the contract is expected to run for 20 months. Road works started at the end of April 2013.
The contractor working in the Gorge has advised TRAC that the first temporary Stop/Go control is expected to be installed this week and a full 24-hour Stop/Go will be in place from July 9th.
As a further traffic calming measure, speed humps will be constructed before each Stop/Go. Delays of 20 minutes can be expected but will be influenced by traffic volumes at any time. Operators would be well advised to take these delays into account when doing their trip planning for they are going to add to trip times.
TRAC has also urged road users to take extra care during the construction period. “We realise it is inconvenient and will add to your travel time but the end product is going to go a long way to improve traffic flow through the Gorge,’ says TRAC CEO, Arthur Coy.
The combination of high traffic volumes in this area and the difficult terrain (with a mountain on one side and a river valley on the other) pose numerous challenges to construction engineers. However, road works are progressing well, albeit slowly.
Construction teams are currently extending the existing drainage culverts. Until these structures are complete, the next phase – which includes the construction of embankments – cannot commence. Apart from the embankments, areas within the expected flood lines have to be packed with rocks in order to protect the road against future flood damage.
Many areas along the Crocodile Gorge are not readily accessible and large boulders often obstruct progress. A number of granite boulders have to be drilled and blasted. This is a time consuming exercise and may cause some inconvenience to road users. The road will be closed for short periods of time to allow for blasting.
Current construction activities are spread out over a number of sections in the Crocodile Gorge. Much of the work happens out of sight because of the steep drop towards the river. At least fifty construction vehicles, equipment and 270 people are already deployed in the Gorge. Truckers should beware that slow moving construction vehicles may cause delays as they have to move between construction activities.
As a safety measure, the speed limit in construction areas has been lowered to 60 km per hour. “It is, however, is very concerning to note that road users continue to ignore the speed limit, thus endangering their own lives and the lives of other road users and construction workers,’ says Coy.
TRAC is appealing to road users to lower their speed and adhere to warning signs in construction areas.
N4 between Schagen to Nelspruit now open
TRAC has advised that construction of the new double divided carriageway from Schagen to the Nelspruit Ring Road split is now nearly complete. Both carriageways (all lanes) were opened to traffic on July 26th. The contractor, WBHO, is now busy with the final touches in this section.
Truckers can obtain up-to-date traffic and route information by following TRAC on Twitter: @TRACN4route or dialling its 24-hour help centre on: 0800 8722 64 or 082 881 4444.