Complex jobs beneath N3

2009-03-15 00:00

Work has started on two engineering projects on sites beside the N3 highway and the speed limit has been reduced adjacent to them. However, authorities do not expect any major disruption to traffic.

At a site between the Old Howick Road and the N3 north opposite Queen Elizabeth Park on Town Hill, a specialist contractor is carrying out a pipe-jacking project on behalf of Umgeni Water.

The speed limit has been reduced to 60 km/hour on the highway in view of “safety considerations for motorists and workers alike”. However, no lane closures are envisaged, said Umgeni Water spokesman, Shami Harichunder. The limit on the Old Howick Road has been reduced to 40 km/hour past the site.

Pipe-jacking involves the use of sophisticated equipment to push sections of pipe into place underground with minimal impact on surface activities.

Esor Limited, a geotechnical and civil engineering contractor, is working on the project that entails jacking 76 metres of concrete pipes under the N3 and Old Howick Road to create a sleeve.

This sleeve will accommodate a new water pipeline from the D.V. Harris water treatment works to the World’s View reservoir. The jacking operation will take approximately 18 weeks at a contract value of R5 million.

The geology of the Town Hill area is known to be unstable, so the pipe is being routed under the N3 at the most stable point. An existing pipeline that runs 10 metres from the new crossing has been in place for about 20 years and has not created any problems, Harichunder said.

At a site in the median of the highway east of the Hilton interchange, Esor is carrying out a second pipe-jacking operation for the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral). The speed limit on both the northbound and southbound routes has also been reduced to 60 km/hour.

A Sanral spokesman said a galvanised steel drainage pipe culvert that runs under the N3 is being replaced with a concrete pipe. The culvert diverts stormwater from Hilton into a stream on the north side of the highway.

The existing steel culvert has started to corrode, so replacing it will “prevent the integrity of the N3 being compromised at a later stage”. The steel pipe will be filled with concrete once the new culvert has been commissioned.

Using conventional methods to replace the pipe would be costly and disruptive to traffic flow as it would require digging a trench across the highway, the spokesman said. This is why Sanral opted for pipe-jacking. The work is expected to take six months at a cost of R4,4 million and should be completed in August.

The KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate has appealed to motorists to obey the reduced speed limits in the interests of traffic and construction workers’ safety.

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