Cape Town - 131017 - The city is looking at various ways to make use of the unfinished bridges in the City Bowl Foreshore. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - The city’s infamous Foreshore freeway bridge, unfinished for nearly four decades, could soon be connected to the N1.

Mayor Patricia de Lille told the Cape Town Press Club last week that connecting the bridge to a road that runs on to the N1 was part of a five-year plan for the city to alleviate its trafficcongestion.

Online business news service Capemessenger reported that the unfinished bridge, which runs from the Helen Suzman Boulevard in Green Point would be connected to the N1 route which runs out of Cape Town on the road to Paarl.

It reported De Lille had revealed that another exit road would be built parallel to the N1 entry/exit road near the current Cape Yacht Club.

De Lille reportedly told guests at the press club that Prasa and Transnet were on board.

When asked whether plans had been approved and what the time-frames would be, De Lille’s spokeswoman Zara Nicholson said the mayor would be making an announcement later in June that would provide clarity on the way forward regarding the unfinished highways.

“This is an ongoing process which is still under way,” she said. “The outcome of this process will determine the possible solutions to address traffic congestion, to name but one.”

Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron also declined to give further details, saying De Lille would make an announcement on 21 June.

But he said it was about addressing congestion.

The TomTom global traffic index released in March revealed that Cape Town was the most congested city in South Africa, surpassing Johannesburg; motorists in the city spent 152 extra hours a year behind the wheel because of traffic congestion, it reported.

Also read: Unfinished highway set for resolution

The iconic bridge has been an extremely popular location for feature films and television commercials for years, but there have long been plans to make better use of it.

In 2012 the City of Cape Town partnered with the University of Cape Town engineering faculty, where students were given carte blanche to come up with proposals to transform the derelict precinct into a vibrant, mixed-use public space.

Among the ideas were turning the freeway into a water feature with giant water slides or a skate park. Some wanted a roller-coaster or urban park. Interestingly, none advised completing it as a freeway.

The ideas from 600 students were exhibited at the City Hall in 2014, then handed to Transport for Cape Town for evaluation and adjudication.

Herron said at the time the Foreshore was the most significant precinct in the city centre and had the potential to unlock enormous opportunities.

Another notorious bridge receiving attention from the city is the railway bridge in Muizenberg.

Transport for Cape Town has installed a 3D laser detection sytem to assist in preventing vehicles with a height of 2.5 metres or more from crashing into the low railway bridge at Atlantic Road. Crashes happened so often that locals have dubbed it the “truck-eating bridge”. Herron said a truck or other vehicle crashed or got stuck under the bridge at least once a week, despite numerous signboards warning drivers of the height restriction.

A system developed by a local company was installed above the northbound carriageway of Main Road, about 150 metres from the intersection with Atlantic Road. It uses an infrared laser beam to read the height of the vehicles and their load.

“Should it detect that a vehicle in the turning lane is higher than 2.5 metres, a warning system is triggered. A signboard with high-power LED lights will flash for about 30 seconds, indicating to the driver that their vehicle is too high to cross underneath the railway bridge,” Herron said.

So far no crashes had been reported since the R300 000 system was installed at the beginning of June.

Cape Argus