File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips / African News Agency.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba announced on Monday that the M2 highway would be closed between the Crown Interchange and Maritzburg Street due to the poor condition of bridges.

Mashaba said the M2 highway will be fully closed from 6am on Thursday 28 February until the end of October 2019 to allow the bridge rehabilitation to resume.

He said the closure was deemed necessary after investigations showed that the structural integrity of the concrete elements of the highway were severely compromised.

"This after I conducted a site visit to the bridge late last year, to inspect the concerning condition of the bridge. At the time, parts of the bridge had to be temporarily closed in order to have the bridge rehabilitated so as to ensure the safety of our residents," Mashaba said.

"Upon my own investigation, various defects were detected at the bridges, posing significant risk to our residents."

Mashaba said the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) realised that parts of the support structure had moved and that was affecting the structural stability of some bridges on the M2 motorway.  

He said the safety of the Selby bridge cannot be guaranteed for continuous use by motorists, and thus the decision for a closure of the M2 between Crown Interchange and Maritzburg street was necessary. 

The bridges were built in the 1960s and are now near the end of their design lifespan, requiring urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation. 

Mashaba said a specialist appointed by the JRA completed detailed assessments of the affected sections of the bridges. 

Mashaba said at least 78.38 percent of the bridges in Joburg were in a poor or very poor condition, and that only 5.77 percent of bridges were in an acceptable condition which meet the 80 percent minimum overall acceptable condition indices for bridges.

The City of Joburg has 902 bridges that are maintained and managed by the JRA. Since 2013, 37 bridges have collapsed during raining seasons. 

"Since coming into office, I have been concerned about the massive infrastructure backlog which was allowed to accumulate within the City," 

"Indeed, previous administrations allowed for a R6.5 billion backlog in our bridge infrastructure. In a survey conducted in 2017, 3900km of our road network fell into the poor or very poor condition."

African News Agency (ANA)