R72 upgrade benefits local people, economy

TIME SENSITIVE: Cement being poured at of one of eight major culverts on the upgraded R72

Engineers explain work being done at Probus meeting

THERE was a record turnout of more than 60 people at the Probus Club meeting at the Port Alfred Ski-boat Club last Tuesday when assistant resident engineer Tanya Seegen of Gibb (Pty) Limited and Benny Hook from Murray & Roberts gave presentations on the R72 upgrade.

Seegen named many benefits of the R72 upgrade, for example, the use of local labour and contractors, employee accommodation and material from Mooifontein Quarry and Shaw Park Quarry will benefit the local economy.

“The traffic has also increased exponentially, partly because the N2 is under construction,” said Seegen.

But those who attended the meeting were more concerned about potholes, stop-and- go’s and the number of huge horse-and-trailers which cause dangerous takeovers and frequently breakdown on the hills in town.

“We aim for no stop-and- go’s, but these are necessary at the bridges,” said Seegen.

Speed signs are set at 40km/h and reviewed daily by a traffic safety officer, but when the road is finished the speed limit will be 100km/h all the way, if not 120, she said.

The road will have wide lanes, double lanes and wide shoulders for trucks to pull over.  At Green Fountain farm, there will be left and right hand turn lanes, and taxi bays on opposite sides of the road.  There will a cattle creep at a farm road, and a box culvert for cattle to pass under as well as to carry water away.

The Kowie, Kleinemonde and Fish River bridges are being repaired, Riet River bridge widened and a major culvert or new bridge is being built at Rufanes River.

ROAD MAKERS: Resident engineer Hendrik Pretorius and assistant resident engineer Tanya Seegen, of consulting engineers Gibb (Pty) Limited

“There are eight major culverts, and the pipes and culverts will divert surface water and reduce potholes,” said Seegen who specialises in hydrology and hydraulics.

Pipes are also being laid under the sidewalks in town. Water flowing down Southwell will be directed into the river, and new pipes are being laid between Buddies and the road to East Beach to divert water away from the marina.

The urban section from Beavers to Buddies will also have four sets of traffic lights, at Atherstone, Gluckman opposite the hospital, the marina and Bathurst Road.

As far as trucks breaking down are concerned, Seegen said they cannot decrease the gradient of the hills due to the proximity of houses, but will widen the road and add climbing lanes.

Asked about the entrance to Port Alfred High School, Seegen said a private company is doing a safety audit.

The 28.8km upgrade from just before Caltex to just after the Fish River bridge will cost the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) R560-million, compared to R6-million which the National Department of Transport paid for 78km upgrade  from Port Alfred to Keiskammahoek in 1972.

Gibb (Pty) Limited won the road widening project in 2011, produced a design for a full reconstruction after a detailed assessment and won the tender in 2014. They  started the job last year and plan to finish in 2018/9.

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