Construction will soon start on a rehabilitation project for Van Reenen’s Pass, which is one of the busiest routes in the country, being on the N3 highway that connects Johannesburg and Durban.
The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) has announced that a 22 month rehabilitation project will kick off from mid-November,
The high mountain pass is at an elevation of 1,768 metres above the sea level, and is infamous for a number of road accidents. This section of the N3 Toll Route often poses traffic management challenges due to congestion and delays.
The area often experiences extreme weather conditions, with heavy mist and rain causing low visibility, while the surface becomes perilously slippery. The pass also has much steeper and longer gradient than normally allowed on a national road.
According to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) the pass between Van Reenen and Harrismith North currently creates a bottleneck on the N3 route. The steep grades and sharp curves on the pass also limit heavy vehicles to crawling speeds in both directions.
“Similarly the travel speeds of light vehicles must then also be limited to reduce the speed differential between these vehicle streams. At the current and future anticipated vehicle volumes, this constitutes a dangerous and unacceptable situation,” it said.
The rehabilitation project will entail the reconstruction of all traffic lanes in both north- and southbound directions.
“During this period the truck lanes will be reconstructed and the other lanes will be repaired and receive a new asphalt surface,” the N3TC said.
“Work will take place in sections, approximately two-kilometres long. Although only a single lane will be closed to traffic at a time, congestion and delays can be expected while work is in progress,” it said.
N3TC said that it is acutely aware of the disruption that road construction may cause to the free flow of traffic, and appealed to road users to be patient, and give consideration to their safety and the safety of the construction workers while the work is being performed.
“A comprehensive traffic management plan is in place to minimise disruption and limit inconvenience to road users,” it said.
At all times at least one lane will be open to traffic, and if required, traffic will be accommodated contra-flow in lanes where construction is not underway.
Careful consideration has been given to the time frames of the road works programme to ensure that all lanes are open to traffic at peak traffic periods such as the December holiday season and the Easter long weekend.
Construction work on Van Reenen’s Pass will cease on 14 December 2018 and will commence again on 8 January 2019.
“Road users are reminded that traveling speed limits are lowered in construction zones – as a safety measure – and are requested to adhere to these limits,” it said.