The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has started work on Phase 1 of a R487-million upgrade to the N1 freeway around Cape Town.
The main contractor is Martin & East.
Transport and Public Works Minister Donald Grant says the three-year project, which started on February 4, is expected to be completed in February 2019.
The project will include the addition of an extra lane to parts of the freeway that previously had two lanes, in an effort to decrease congestion.
Work will be carried out over the 9 km stretch of the N1, from Plattekloof road to just beyond the Old Oak interchange. This portion of the freeway belongs to the Western Cape government, and not the South African National Rail Agency, as is the case with most national roads.
This stretch of the N1 experiences severe congestion during morning and afternoon peak periods, with around 120 000 vehicles carried each day, says Grant.
Apart from the construction of additional lanes, the scope of the work, spanning four phases, includes the construction of new auxiliary lanes; the extension of the existing concrete median barrier to prevent head-on collisions; intersection improvements at various parts of the freeway; the demolition and reconstruction of the Old Oak West bridge and repairs to other bridges along the freeway.
The project will also include works to the existing water pipeline in the middle of the freeway.
All efforts will be made to ensure minimal disruption to traffic during the construction phase of the project, says Grant.
However, he warns that motorists should expect reduced general speed limits and lane widths in areas where construction work is taking place.
Project work hours have been restricted to periods outside the morning and afternoon peak times.
Around R8-million of work in the project has been dedicated to the Emerging Contractor Development Programme, which forms part of the Expanded Public Works Programme.
Around R24-million has been committed to black business enterprises, and 29 000 person days set aside for labour sourced from the local area.