Durban motorists should prepare themselves for delays as Sanral will be upgrading the busy N3 and N2 freeways in the region.
On Wednesday Sanral said the roads were currently operating at full capacity and were carrying the highest volumes in eThekwini and the province.
The upgrades will mean that lanes will increase by up to five lanes in each direction. This is in the hope of accommodating future traffic growth and safety. The expansion will result in the need to buy more land.
Sanral’s Eastern Region Planning, Design and Construction Manager, Ravi Ronny, said: “Upgrading of the vital N3 is essential if one of government’s strategic integrated projects linking the Port of Durban with Gauteng, South Africa’s economic heartland, is to succeed. It is currently the busiest road freight corridor in South Africa.”
They were not looking at completely closing the freeways during construction, but rather reducing the number of lanes or lane width or reducing speed limits, and encouraging the use of alternative routes such as the M7 and M19.
A date for commencement had not yet been decided as funding for construction had yet to be allocated, Ronny said.
“Two sections of the upgrades fall within the area covered by the Mariannhill Toll Plaza. For the other sections, we will look at co-funding with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality,” said Ronny.
No impact is envisaged on toll concessions, and the sections within the existing toll roads will also not be impacted by the development.
Ronny said they were also still waiting for environmental authorisation and land acquisition. “In excess of 44 million tons of freight per annum are carried on the N3 corridor, with approximately 9000 heavy vehicles using the national road per day on the KwaZulu-Natal portion of the network.”
So vital is attaining seamless flow of traffic, that any blockage would be tantamount to a national crisis, Ronny said.
The modifications will affect bridges and interchanges like the Solomon Mahlangu, EB Cloete, Spine Road, Paradise Valley, Farningham (M7) and Richmond Road.
The environment will also be factored with environmental authorisation from the Department of Environmental Affairs. Sanral has appointed Acer (Africa) Environmental Consultants who will be responsible for getting authorisation from the department.