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Controversy over new Paulshof road

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The next round of public participation meetings for the construction of the controversial K60 road through the Paulshof/Lonehill area will be held within a few weeks.

The scoping report is also to be released at the same time, but there will be an extension of time because of the public and school holidays.

The road, planned in the 1970s, is causing division among the local communities, with those residents tired of the traffic congestion wanting it, and others claiming it will destroy the area.

The main concern is the environmental impact the road will have on the Rietfontein Nature Reserve, the FreeMe animal rehabilitation centre and three wetlands that the road would cross.

The K60 is a provincial road that would be built by the Gauteng Department of Transport, Roads and Works.

Construction is scheduled to start in November this year, but because of lengthy environmental impact studies and expected objections, it’s likely to start later.

NO ALTERNATIVES?

Said ward councillor Steven Kruger: “We are looking very seriously at alternatives, but it does not appear at the moment that there are other suitable routes.”

The portion of the road that affects Ward 106 starts at the intersection of Witkoppen and Main roads, going through Paulshof West, and through the northern edge of the Rietfontein Nature Reserve. It continues through Paulshof, between central Paulshof and Paulshof Ext 10, and connects with the completed portion of the K60 in Sunninghill.

One of the main objectors is FreeMe. The road will run about 70m from its boundaries, and the organisation is concerned that the noise and air pollution would badly affect the animals it rehabilitates.

At a meeting held recently to discuss the road, Nicci Wright, the senior animal manager, said the road would cause enormous stress for the animals as it would be right on their boundary.

FreeMe is the biggest rehabilitation centre in Africa, with about 10 000 animals in its care annually. It was also a green-lung area, with hundreds of species of flora and fauna, she said.

CRIME WORRIES

Residents also expressed concern about the effect the road would have on the ridges in the area and about the increase in crime that would come about as a result of not only the construction work, but people’s ability to access the suburbs.

They also fear they will lose their cycling and walking trails along the route, and expect excessive noise from the traffic as well as a resultant depreciation in the value of their properties.

One resident said an estate agent immediately devalued her property by R100 000 after news of the construction of the road was made public.

Wetlands expert Paul Fairall said the road would cross three wetlands, including the one near Grosvenor Road, Bryanston, as well as two spruits – the Braamfontein Spruit and the Sandspruit. “The road was planned in 1970/71, some 41 years ago, and is now irrelevant,” he said.

Ward 93 councillor Annette Deppe said residents were divided. “Some people are concerned about the growing traffic congestion in the area. It takes them hours to get into and out of these suburbs, so they are welcoming the new road.

“However many residents are concerned about the impact of the road on their properties and lifestyles. All concerned will have ample opportunity to formally lodge and register objections. There are still two public meetings scheduled about the road,” Deppe said.

Arno van den Berg, an environmental assessment practitioner who is working on the road studies, said the initial scoping report would be released shortly and people would have many opportunities to object.

“We are planning a second public participation meeting within the next few weeks, but are working around the public and school holidays.

“Obviously, all environmental and water permits will be applied for in terms of legislation,” he said.

IT COULD TAKE THREE YEARS

The new portion of the K60 road would be 62m wide, and would link the K60 in Sunninghill, which stops at Rivonia Road, to Main Road.

It is an extension of the K60/Van der Bijl Drive, which runs through the middle of Sunninghill.

The new road construction would start at the intersection of Witkoppen and Main (end of present Witkoppen dual carriageway) then goes over the hill to Paulshof, and down over a new bridge that would be constructed over the Braamfontein Spruit.

The road would then join up with the existing dual carriageway road near Chilli Lane at the corner of Rivonia Road and then on to Kyalami Road (R55) at Waterfall Estate, going between Megawatt Park Eskom and St Peter’s School. Thus there would be a dual carriageway from the K55 all the way to Fourways.

The tender and construction period would be some two-and-a-half to three years. Consultants have been appointed to do all environmental impact assessments. -The Star


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