N3 toll route: plans to reduce snowfall dangers and delays

2013-07-09 00:00

SNOW is a beautiful and rare event in South Africa, but it can cause chaos when major roads are closed.

N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) have ­announced that they are working on a plan to help minimise the effects snowfall has on the N3 toll route, South Africa’s premier economic arterial road.

In the past two years, the N3 toll route has been closed three times for extended periods in numerous areas along the N3.

The N3TC is responsible for the ­road from the Cedara interchange in Hilton to the Heidelberg South interchange in Gauteng.

Communication is a major problem during heavy snows.

A Joint Operations Centre will be set up, with Harrismith and Ladysmith as the main points of contact.

In the event of heavy snowfall, the Road Traffic Inspectorate and other relevant law enforcement authorities will, dependent on the conditions, with safety being their primary focus, keep one lane open in both directions.

This will allow traffic to flow and give access to emergency services, which may need to reach patients who require medical attention.

Grader operations in the Free State and KZN will be on standby to remove snow from the road, weather conditions permitting.

“One extremely important component of this snowfall plan is the involvement of the local communities and the various accommodation establishments that generously assist stranded motorists with accommodation and meals at affordable prices,” said Con Roux, the commercial manager of N3TC.

“Without a cohesive group working together to prevent the loss of life, snowfall closures and the extreme conditions associated with them would have a disastrous impact.”

Roux said the private sector, along with relevant government departments, have been called upon to assist with the process.

The provincial Department of Transport has approved the use of quad bikes to reach affected ­areas.

The SA National Defence Force, will continue to support and assist when motorists are stuck in the snow and require medical assistance.

Humanitarian support from various NGOs and government agencies has been facilitated to ensure that anyone trapped in snow will have access to food, water and blankets.

N3TC encouraged road users to prepare for snow in the winter months by ensuring their vehicles are roadworthy and by planning their trips properly.

Van Reenan’s Pass can been closed for days at time, putting the lives of truckers and other motorists at risk.

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