PICS: Excitement mounts as Durban's M4 is set to reopen next week
Durban - Six months after a large section of the M4 Ruth First highway had to be closed after roadway was washed away during torrential downpours, the road is set to re-open next week.
On Thursday morning, prior to tabling his 2020/2021 budget, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli, personally inspected the major arterial and declared it ready to be re-opened. This repair was estimated at a cost of R45 million .
"Our initial plan was to open the road to traffic by end of April 2020 – however due to the lockdown period we had to adjust our target. I can report that I have personally conducted the inspection of the project this morning and I can now safely report that the road is now ready to be opened for traffic next week," Ntuli said.
The M4 route is a key economic node and major arterial that provides access between the Durban CBD and the northern areas of the eThekwini and iLembe district municipalities. These include La Lucia, Umhlanga, La Mercy, Umdloti and Ballito.
Travellers between the King Shaka International Airport and the city mainly use this road as it is an alternative route to the N2 between the two destinations.
The heavy rains experienced last year resulted in the erosion of the embankment, which led to the road becoming undermined and eventually failing up to the road centre-line joint.
MEC Ntuli stated that the department's R11.6 billion budget policy statement would seek to create a transportation system that is an enabler to economic growth and development.
This financial year R8.3 billion will be allocated to transport infrastructure.
"R3.8bn is allocated to construction and another R3.7bn is allocated to maintenance. Infrastructure planning is allocated R36m, whilst infrastructure design is allocated R50m. In the next three years we plan to upgrade 229 kilometres of gravel road to new blacktop. We will also build 130 new kilometres of gravel roads to connect rural communities and maintain 280 000 kilometres of gravel road in the next three years," the MEC said.
He said his department has also finalised the agreement with the South African National Defense Force for the construction of 14 bailey bridges, mainly to connect schools in rural communities in the province.
Other major economic nodes that will be upgraded working with SANRAL will include the N2/N3 upgrade, Isandlwana Road P372, D1021 Mshwathi River Crossings and KwaXimba bridge, P709 link to N2-N2 to Amatigulu and M7 Widening from Pinetown to the Harbour.
The N2/N3 upgrades will allow for easy traffic flow of freight and other road users. The first phase will be at a value of R9bn and construction will commence once the lockdown regulations have been eased further.
Ntuli said the Department of Transport was in the process of finalising the Memorandum of Understanding for upgrading the roads leading to the Isandlwana Heritage site with SANRAL.
He said the upgrade of this 31 kilometre road will improve the economy of the area as the Isandlwana Heritage site will promote tourism within the area. The current estimation for the project is R170m.
He said the MoU had been finalised with SANRAL for the upgrading of low-level structures on D1021.
"We are also engaged in intense discussions over the capacity improvement for KwaXimba bridge on P423 on the Msunduzi River where there has been two major fatal accidents.
"Work on the N2 near Ballito will resume after it was halted more than two years ago due to a protracted court battle. The court battle has been settled and we thank our people for their patience," he said.
Ntuli said there will also be capacity improvements for main road M7 from Pinetown to N2 South Freeway in order to allow traffic to flow freely. There will also be an upgrade of the N2/M7 interchange to a full interchange where there is a continuous flow of traffic.IOL