One road, 10 months - 111 crashes

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IOL mot pic nov1 Ou Kaapseweg 1 INLSA A cross marks the spot where a person died in a fatal crash near the top of Ou Kaapseweg. Picture: David Ritchie

There were at least 111 crashes on Ou Kaapseweg in the 10-month period between mid-December 2011 and the middle of October 2012 - and that doesn’t include a cyclist seriously injured in a hit-and-run incident this week.

The statistics were provided by the City of Cape Town, and come as residents and ratepayers are demanding answers on why measures recommended over the past decade to reduce major traffic snarl-ups and many crashes on the now severely-congested drive have been ignored – a charge disputed by the city.

Traffic congestion on Ou Kaapseweg has increased significantly in recent years, and become particularly acute in the past two months, because of the rehabilitation of Main Road between Muizenberg and Clovelly.

The city’s statistics reveal that there were no fatalities but two serious injuries in the 111 recorded incidents, and that nine people were slightly injured.

FIVE BLACK DAYS

In a single black five-day period at the end of September/beginning of October, there were nine incidents – including three on one of those five days.

IOL mot pic nov1 Ou Kaapseweg 2 Peak hour traffic on Ou Kaapseweg requires lots of patience, as vehicles crawl slowly up the steep pass. INLSA

The most recent fatalities on Ou Kaapseweg occurred in June 2011 when two people died in a crash, and in November two bikers were severely injured in a head-on collision with a truck.

While most of the incidents reported in the city’s statistics involved ordinary cars, other vehicles included light delivery vans (one incident involved three of these vehicles), panel vans, a heavy vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, minibuses and an articulated truck, while pedestrians, a motorcyclist, a cyclist and “fixed objects” were also cited.

The incidents occurred both on Ou Kaapseweg itself and at the intersections with Steenberg Road, Silvermine Road, The Bend, Kommetjie Road, “Four ways” (Kommetjie Road), Buller Louw Drive, Noordhoek Road, Westlake Drive and Frigate Road.

CITY STANDS ACCUSED OF DOING ‘PRECISELY NOTHING’

A group of seven civic organisations from the far south of the Peninsula, the body corporate of the Steenberg office park and the Home Owners’ Association of the adjoining Silvertree Estate at the northern end of Ou Kaapseweg, are now collectively tackling the city about problems on the drive.

They are pointing to remedial and safety measures proposed in three reports between 2002 and 2009 that include eight passing lanes – three in the south-bound and five in the north-bound lanes on Ou Kaapseweg – as well as an arrester bed at its intersection with Steenberg Road at its northern end, and several improvements at the intersection with Silvermine Road where there were 50 incidents in a six-year period between 2003 and 2008.

In one of their two legal letters requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the problems and possible short-term improvements to the route, the city stands accused of doing “precisely nothing” to resolve the problems, but this is denied by Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater.

By Wednesday, the civics and the two associations had still not managed to secure a date with the city.

According to the minutes of a community meeting in Fish Hoek last year to discuss speed control on Kommetjie Road, principal traffic inspector for the South Peninsula Mark Harding revealed that there were only 12 traffic officers for the entire area from Grassy Park and Retreat southwards - six per shift.

Asked by Janet Holwill, chairwoman of the Fish Hoek Valley Residents’ and Ratepayer’ Association, what the key factor was to stop fatalities, he replied “visible law enforcement actions”.

The 2008 consultants’ report stated that Ou Kaapseweg was operating at “close to capacity conditions” and that the introduction of climbing lanes was “considered a critical component in maintaining acceptable levels of access to the Deep South during phases 2 and 3 of the Main Road rehabilitation project” and also to establish “much needed safety projects”.

Herron said the proposal for passing lanes had been “broadly considered” in 2008 but not investigated at the level of detail required to confirm that such lanes were economically viable.

MAIN ROAD SAGA STILL FAR FROM AN END

Long-suffering residents of the Far South will have to wait until at least 2014 before the rehabilitation of Main Road between Muizenberg and Clovelly has been completed – if funds are available.

That’s the word from Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, who was responding to criticism of the protracted project that had caused severe traffic problems over more than four and a half years and resulted in “spillover” problems on Ou Kaapseweg.

He said the tender, advertised in May 2006, for work to Main Road between Atlantic Road in Muizenberg and Clovelly Road had noted “surface and structural defects are present and a rehabilitation strategy is required for a 20-year design life”.

After the consultant had completed the required work, a construction contract had been advertised for Phase 1 between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay and a contractor had been appointed in December 2007. The 18-month duration of this contract had been extended for legitimate reasons by 26 months, taking it to close to four years. It had now been completed.

The contract had included the reconstruction of the road; the replacement of water mains and sewers; the installation of sub-surface drains; and the installation of new street lighting, Herron said.

Valid claims for delays included:

The late notification that an environmental impact assessment was required because the bulk water main was being increased from a 500mm diameter to 600mm. This meant that the contractor could not start with the bulk water main and had to work out of sequence, being forced to start on the upper side of the road, and this had caused drainage problems during the wet winter of 2008.

Significant flooding of the excavated upper side had occurred. A huge amount of rock encountered close to the 500mm water main had to be carefully removed for the new water main to be laid.

A contractor for Phase 2, now under construction in the area around the intersection of Boyes Drive with Main Road in Kalk Bay had been appointed on 11 January 2011 last year on a 26-month contract, Herron said.

Phase 3 would involve two sections of Main Road: from the end of Phase 2 to Clovelly Road; and from York Road to the start of Phase 1 near Casa Labia.

“It’s hoped Phase 3 will commence in 2013/14, should funding be forthcoming.” - The Argus

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