R900-million upgrade for Eastern Cape N2
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has started to upgrade a 47 km stretch of the N2, between Grahamstown and the Fish River Pass, in the Eastern Cape.
The project forms part of a long-term strategy to improve roads around and between Grahamstown and King Williams Town. Valued at R900 million, the project will take place in three phases over a period of six to seven years.
It entails geometric improvements traversing a mountainous terrain. In addition, climbing lanes will be added to steep sections of the road and sight distance for drivers will be improved to reduce road accidents. Improving the level of surface to reduce vehicle operating costs is also a consideration.
“The existing road was built in the 1960s, and currently does not meet Sanral’s desired alignment and safety standards,” says Steven Robertson, Sanral Southern region project manager.
“An increase in traffic volumes, particularly heavy vehicles, over the past ten years, prompted the need for this road upgrade,” he adds.
This section of road serves as the west-east link between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and will ensure improvements on the national road network that provides the economic link between Port Elizabeth and East London.
A particular challenge faced in the upgrade is the presence of rare vegetation. “Oldenburgia Grandis only grows on quartzite outcrops. Sanral has collaborated with Rhodes University, and funded a study and transplant programme for these plants. The project is being overseen by a post-graduate botany student,” Robertson says.
The road upgrade project will provide employment to 360 people. Sanral is also implementing a training and employment programme for rural communities along the route.