The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and the Department of Transport have started upgrading the N3 connecting Johannesburg and Durban.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) said that the project will see much-needed road expansion and upgrades to the N3 between Cato Ridge and Dardanelles and the N3 between Dardanelles and Lynnfield.
The value of the upgrades to the two sections amounts to over R3.2 billion. The project has already created 485 jobs, with hundreds more set to be created over the entire construction phase, the DPWI said.
“The N3 is integral to the economic growth of South Africa. A growing South African population has placed this strategic corridor under severe pressure, requiring substantial upgrading to portions of the corridor.
“This corridor also referred to as the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Corridor, is a key infrastructure development project.”
The project entails upgrading the existing four-lane dual carriageway to an eight-lane dual carriageway by widening the median and outer shoulders over a distance of 6.4km.
A road-over-rail bridge will also be extended to accommodate the widening of the N3.
“The direct economic benefits of the upgrades are a reduction in travel times, a reduction in vehicle operating costs and a reduction in accidents costs, all of which have great benefit to the economy at large,” the DPWI said.
“There are also indirect economic benefits that will accrue to the local areas.”
The DPWI said that the upgrade to the N3 should alleviate congestion on roads around the port and the crucial N3 corridor linking the port of Durban to Gauteng.
The upgrades to the roads will also shorten turnaround times for freight-carrying vehicles, it said.
“This project has brought to life the objectives of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020, which aims to assist industries to recover from the tough economic climate and see all sectors working together to help build South Africa back better.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa said infrastructure projects form a key part of the government’s Covid-19 recovery plan.
Speaking in his 2021 state of the nation address in February, Ramaphosa added that the government’s R100 billion infrastructure fund is now in operation. The country has billions of rands in planned infrastructure development, including upgraded highways.
“We have now developed an infrastructure investment project pipeline worth R340 billion in network industries such as energy, water, transport and telecommunications,” he said.
“This includes the rehabilitation of the N1, N2 and N3 highways, the student housing infrastructure programme, and the Mokolo and Crocodile River water project.”