The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says two bridges on the N12 outside Hopetown, Northern Cape, currently being widened and improved to increase their life span, are expected to open to traffic in February 2019, says project manager Tiago Massingue.
The N12 is a key transit route linking Kimberley and the surrounding Northern Cape towns to Cape Town and the greater Western Cape. Construction work also includes repairing the bridges to allow for safer passage of traffic, as well as an extended pedestrian walkway along the route.
Many pedestrians from surrounding communities walk alongside this road to access the local fuel station and convenience store, often placing themselves at great risk from fast-moving traffic and the improved pedestrian walkway will help ensure safety, he says.
Improved traffic flow, dedicated areas for bicycles and pedestrians, stronger parapet systems and guard rails with effective emergency areas have created a much better environment for road users. The R100-million project started in September 2016, with over R15-million spent on salaries to date. Seven subcontractors were used on site, with the project being 95% complete, he adds.
The original bridges were built in 1958 and 1985, and upgrades were needed to ensure the continued safety of the structures, as well as an improved road-user experience, Massingue comments. While the smaller of the two bridges has little or no water running underneath it, the other spans over the Orange river.
“This bridge posed significant challenges for construction workers in terms of safe access and they had to work hard to mitigate the environmental impact of building access routes around the area. This, along with the significant height at which some of the operations were carried out, required work of the utmost precision, frequently testing the nerves of those involved.”
“The management, maintenance and upgrade of the national road network are of vital importance, not only for national infrastructure growth and development, but also local economic development.”
The project provided temporary work opportunities for the community of Hopetown. Sanral partnered with its consulting and contracting engineers to provide training and upskilling for the local workforce.
Ten training programmes were offered, including first aid, fire-fighting, basic rigging and slinging, scaffold erecting, traffic safety and working at heights. The working-at-heights course was by far the most popular course and was attended by 74 workers, he highlights.
“The skills and knowledge that the local community has acquired will stand them in good stead as they pursue future developmental and economic opportunities in the construction industry.”