The immediate danger may have been averted but Joburg motorists travelling on the M2 at various off-ramps face 12 months of traffic nightmares.
Yesterday, motorists experienced delays of up to 45 minutes as the M2’s Main Reef Road off-ramps were closed, with vehicles battling to get onto secondary roads.
The M2 carries between 10 500 and 12 000 vehicles per hour in both directions. One frustrated motorist, Bryan Hyams- who works in the Crown Mines area- said the freeway was completely closed off to traffic yesterday morning.
“Motorists were all trying to use the same deviation. I and many other people were very late for work.
“The problem is that there are no alternative routes except for one secondary route, which also has to be used by trucks travelling to the industrial area,” he pointed out.
The JRA announced last week that it would be closing a section of the M2 at the Kaserne bridge for repairs at the weekend.
However, during the inspections for the preparatory work, JRA engineers discovered that the bridge had deteriorated further and advised that it be completely closed for public safety.
“The decision was taken following the outcomes of the continuous monitoring of the bridge and after the visual conditions-assessment indicated that the structural integrity of the concrete elements has been severely reduced,” said the acting managing director of the JRA, Goodwill Mbatha.
The engineers found that parts of the support structure had moved vertically and horizontally, affecting the structural stability of the bridge, he added.
“The safety of the Kaserne bridge cannot be guaranteed for continuous use by motorists, which prompted the decision for a sectional closure of the bridge.
“JRA engineers will continue to monitor the Selby bridge on the M2, which is still open to traffic.”
Mbatha said the safety of motorists and road users was of “utmost importance and concern to the JRA, hence the urgent decision for the closure”.
Repairs and rehabilitation work at the M2 Selby and Kaserne bridges are to commence in the second week of October and are expected to last about 12 months.
In a recent report, the roads agency found that about 85% of the city’s bridges were constructed before 1961, and 63% of them before 1941.
Some 61.7% of these old bridges are in poor condition, with only 2.44% of the city’s bridges reported to be in a very good condition.
Typical defects include siltation, erosion, collapsing soil, defective bridge drains, worn-out bridge expansion joints, damaged guardrails, vandalism and major cracks.
The Kaserne and Selby bridges were constructed in the 1960s and and the stormwater drainage has completely failed, the JRA report said.
The bridge closure project has been divided into two phases. Phase 1 will be the temporary total closure of the M2 eastbound carriageway between the Joe Slovo off-ramp and Maritzburg on-ramp.
The temporary total closure will be in place until the implementation of Phase 2, involving the deviation of the M2 eastbound traffic onto the M2 westbound carriageway, thereby reducing the east and westbound to two lanes in each direction between Maritzburg and Mooi streets.