Puzzling pavement project

Strange decisions have been made by Sanral’s contractors in the R72 upgrade through Port Alfred which has been ongoing for more than three years.

WIDENED, THEN NARROWED: TotT asked Sanral why a portion of Albany Road in the industrial area had been cut into for sidewalk paving, narrowing the road and impeding access into businesses Picture: JON HOUZET

One of the biggest and most prolonged side projects has been the construction of pavements on both sides of Southwell Road from Van Riebeek Street in the west to the bridge and along Albany Road to what Sanral calls the bellmouths of Bathurst Street (the intersection of the R72 and the R67) in the east.

The narrowing of Albany Road approaching the bridge from the east has already been pointed out as a problem as there is now no space to pass on the left as vehicles wait for a break in oncoming traffic to turn right into Pascoe Crescent.

Yet there are these bizarrely wide pavements approaching the bridge – the pavements having taken the shoulder and then some. The rationale for the narrowing of the road at this point – clearly an impediment to the flow of traffic – remains unknown [the poles for new traffic lights since erected at this intersection may yield that answer].

TotT noticed another narrowing of Albany Road in the industrial area. The road was initially widened and part of the gravel shoulder tarred over. Last week we saw the contractor had taken away a significant portion of the road by building kerbing for pavement on the road itself, taking away space on both sides of the road.

This also seems senseless, as the widened road – and the shoulder before it – provided space for cars to turn left into businesses on the north side of Albany and allowed for safe passing on the right without crossing into the oncoming traffic lane.

Sanral’s answer is that the widening was temporary, although consideration was given to keeping it.

What seems to trump everything though is the pavement project, which Sanral said was for safety and “not negotiable”.

It made no impression on Sanral Southern Region manager Mbulelo Peterson, when I pointed out to him that the industrial area draws vehicle traffic, not pedestrians. Access is required for suppliers making deliveries and customers picking up orders or taking their cars to mechanics and panelbeaters, or companies taking products out to construction projects.

Most flabbergasting of all was his response that Sanral had in fact advised Ndlambe Municipality to close the accesses onto the R72 between the R67 intersection and Hallier Street – access which has existed for years.

Peterson is particularly against access to businesses on the northern side of Albany, which he said is illegal. There is no other access for some of these businesses.

We hope due consideration is given to the impracticality of these decisions, and wiser heads prevail.

– Jon Houzet

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