Residents of Johannesburg are urged to make greater use of the city’s public transport systems, including Metrobus, Rea Vaya and the Gautrain, from September, when the Johannesburg Roads Agency embarks on a R365-million contract to upgrade the Soweto Freeway, as well as the M1 and M2 highways, to improve mobility on the municipal roads.
Speaking at the launch of these projects, Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) MD Mpho Kau said the eight-month M1 freeway project, which included the Oxford, Federation and Double-Decker bridges, would be carried out in three phases.
The scope of work included concrete and joint repairs, stormwater drainage system upgrades and rail repairs and replacement.
Kau explained that when the Oxford bridge construction work starts, the bidirectional three lanes would be reduced to two lanes, while the Double-Decker bridge, which had four lanes in each direction, would be open to motorists during peak hours, between 05:30 and 09:30 and again between 15:30 and 19:30.
“Off-peak, some of the lanes will be closed, with the worst case scenario seeing three lanes closed over weekends, mostly at midnight,” he said, adding that there would be one week during the construction period that the JRA would close most of the lanes, which would impact traffic.
The first phase of the project would focus on the median and would be completed in about two months. Kau said this would have minimal impact on traffic.
The second phase, which would see some of the southbound lanes of the M1 closed, as well as the closure of the St Andrews on-ramp, would be carried out in six months. “It will have serious impact on traffic,” Kau said, urging motorists to be patient during this phase.
The third phase focused on the northbound lanes, where two lanes would be kept open. “It might be necessary to close the Oxford northbound off-ramp,” Kau said, adding that this leg of the construction programme would also take six months to complete and would also have a high impact on traffic.
However, he pointed out that the JRA would implement measures to ease the congestion and reduce incidents during construction. This included the installation of closed-circuit television cameras on construction sites.
“The images will be fed through to the Traffic Management Centre and response teams will immediately be dispatched when there are any incidences.”
He added that alternative routes had been identified, which would be pointed out by signage along the M1, and that the JRA had been in talks with public transport service providers to increase availability during the construction months.
Kau highlighted that a number of park-and-ride points were being considered, where commuters could leave their cars and use public transport through congested areas.
Also speaking at the event, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau said construction activity was a sign of a healthy city and appealed to road users to take the temporary changes into account when planning their journeys.
“Speeding, dangerous driving, lack of courtesy and obnoxious behaviour on the roads will not accelerate the construction programme. The upgrades of our roads infrastructure is part of our efforts to create a better future for our residents where we can link jobs to people,” he said.
The project formed part of the city’s R110-billion infrastructure investment over ten years that was also directed at changing the spatial design of the metropolitan in a bid to ease congestion and flooding on the city’s roads.
Work would also be carried out on the Nelson Mandela, Booysens road, Queen Elizabeth and Le Roux avenue bridges.
In addition, R50-million was allocated for the resurfacing of the M1 freeway, while R10-million would be spent on improvements to the M2 highway.
Overall, R222-million would be spent this year on road resurfacing across the city.
Work was also under way on the Naledi bridge in Soweto, to link the communities of Naledi and Protea North.