The temporary cable car installed at the Msikaba bridge site on the N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) project is now fully operational.
The cable car is said to drastically reduce the travelling time between the south and north sites of the Msikaba bridge.
The distance between the north and south banks of the Msikaba bridge site is about 600 m, and it previously took about three hours to travel from one bank to the other by road.
The cable car now enables site staff to cross the gorge in about three to four minutes.
“Staff previously used a helicopter to travel from one side to the other a few days a week or driving. The cable car is available 24 hours a day, in most weather conditions that would prevent helicopter flights, and can carry more staff per trip, as opposed to only three in a helicopter. It is also considerably cheaper to operate than a helicopter,” says N2WCR senior project manager Craig McLachlan.
The cable car can accommodate up to six people or 500 kg in weight. It can transport site staff and, occasionally, small quantities of material such as laboratory samples from the south to the north bank and vice versa.
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), as the custodian of the N2WCR project, says it is making steady progress in developing the R1.65-billion bridge project, which is under construction.
With a 580 m span and 195 m height, the cable-stay bridge’s anticipated completion date is the end of 2023.
The N2WCR project entails upgrading the 410 km road, which stretches from East London to the Mtamvuna river, on the boundary between the Eastern Cape and the KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
The project is located on the N2, which connects four provinces – the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga – and traverses the cities and major towns of Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha, Durban and Ermelo.
This includes a brand-new greenfield section of 112 km between Port St Johns and Port Edward.
Once complete, the route will be about 69 km and 85 km shorter than the current N2 and R61 routes, respectively, and, owing to its shorter and flatter alignment, between one-and-a-half to three hours faster for light and heavy freight vehicles, respectively.
This new route is posited to significantly reduce vehicle carbon emissions and would result in a time-cost saving to motorists and freight operators of about R1.5-billion a year.
The greenfield project includes two megabridges, the Mtentu bridge and the Msikaba bridge projects, and seven other major roadworks projects, including several major bridges and interchange structures.
The tender for the Mtentu bridge project has closed and it is currently in adjudication.
A contractor is expected to be appointed by September.
Provided that there are no significant delays on the Mtentu bridge project, the construction period is estimated to be 49 months, including a four-month mobilisation period.