The R360-million new four-lane N17 link between Nasrec and Soweto is scheduled for com-pletion by the end of the year.
The link is part of the future N17, and serves as an additional road between Soweto and Nasrec, where the Soccer City 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium is being constructed.
The ‘Nasweto Highway’, as it is known, is being built by the VelaVKE/Group Five joint venture. It starts at the Soweto highway on the western side, and links with Nasrec road to the east.
Construction kicked off in January last year.
One feature of the road is a R22-million bridge-jack pro- ject, being executed by Esor-franki.
CEO Bernie Krone says the 4 500-t bridge has already been constructed, and is now gently being jacked, or pushed, into position underneath the rail reserve.
The N17 will eventually run underneath this bridge.
“The bridge has to move 63 m. This process will take about six weeks,” explains Krone.
The margin for error for the bridge to fit underneath the rail infrastructure is a mere 35 mm to 50 mm.
Krone says trains still use the railway line while the jacking is in process, with only a speed restriction imposed.
Bridge jacking is an old and proved construction tech-nology that has been used many times; however, this is one of the biggest structures for which Esorfranki has ever used the technique.
Still Good To Grow
In terms of the construction industry, in general, Krone says the once feverishly buoyant sector has “been living in the real world for almost a year already”.
This comes as construction industry leaders earlier this year reported a drop-off in work in the building sector as the recession started to take its toll, with some companies also hinting at a general margin squeeze emerging in the industry.
“We had ten years of negative growth in the industry,” noted Krone.
“Now we have the unnatural spike seen in the last 18 to 24 months being chopped off, but we are still going.”
Krone does not think the industry will see pressure on margins increase more than what is currently the case.
“There is still room for growth in the industry in 2009 and 2010, and beyond. Government will not stray from its policy of spending money on infrastructure. “It is monument spending.”
Krone describes airports, roads and power stations as “monuments for the next generation”.
He is also reasonably optimistic about the cooling building market.
“Forward thinking ambition will overtake fear.”
He believes people will return to the building market in certain instances, especially around the Gautrain stations and other commercially driven nodes.