Van Reenen bypass to save SA billions

2015-02-27 00:00

HARRISMITH — The long-awaited four-lane highway to bypass Van ­Reenen’s Pass on the N3 will reduce traffic flows and ensure a safer drive.

This is the message of South African National Road Agency (Sanral) spokesperson Vusi Mona.

An environmental impact study of the impact the bypass will have on the environment around the De Beers Pass was already under way.

The 99-km long bypass will link the Tugela toll plaza with Warden and cut 15 km off the Van Reenen’s route. The gradients will not be as steep ­and the turns not as sharp as the section between the pass and the Tugela ­toll plaza on the N3.

Mona said the Van Reenen’s Pass, which was built in 1961, cannot ­handle current traffic volumes any more. The past few years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of ­collisions and truck accidents on the road, which causes sporadic road ­closures and loses thousands of hours in ­productivity.

He said in 2011, the N3 south to Durban was closed for 80 hours, which had increased to 95,6 hours in 2013.

The N3 north to Johannesburg had seen closures increase from 88,25 to 102 hours. Mona said each closure costs millions of rands.

He stressed the bypass will not add a tollgate to the N3.

“With Durban, which handles more than 40% of the country’s ­­­in- and exports, and Gauteng producing about 33% of the gross domestic ­product, the Durban-Free State ­corridor is by far the most important road in South Africa.”

He said the savings on the new route could contribute about R4,4 billion to South Afria’s GDP.

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