Another repair delay

2019-01-24 15:21
A car drives under the Peter Brown Bridge, passing the pillar that was damaged in 2016. Repairs to the bridge and the section of N3 on Townhill near it have been postponed several times since early 2017.

A car drives under the Peter Brown Bridge, passing the pillar that was damaged in 2016. Repairs to the bridge and the section of N3 on Townhill near it have been postponed several times since early 2017.

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The unstable-looking Peter Brown Bridge and the treacherous ridge running along N3 south bound on Townhill will have to wait at least another 10 months or so before contractors could start their repairs.

The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) said on Wednesday they “should have a contractor on site before the end of the year”, however, the repair dates have been postponed several times since the bridge and road fell into disrepair in late 2016 and early 2017.

Sanral Eastern Region project manager Hugh Brooks said their consultant and contractor documents are prepared subject to getting the pro forma. “Realistically if we were to receive the pro forma in February then we should have a contractor on site before the end of the year.”

The Peter Brown Bridge’s supporting pillar was severely damaged in late 2016 when a truck crashed into it, forcing engineers to construct a temporary prop to hold the bridge up until permanent repairs began.

In early 2017 heavy trucks driving in the slow lane of Townhill in the tar-melting summer heat pushed up a large ridge of tar in the highway.

The ridge has lengthened over the years and now runs past the Peter Brown Bridge for almost 5 km.

Montrose community leader Megan Nicol said on Wednesday that it was “a poor show that the bridge and road had been left in its current state for so long”.

“There is talk about expanding the freeway but if they cannot fix what needs to be repaired, how will they maintain and fix any issues with the N3 expansion.”

Work to expand and widen another 84 km of the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg has already begun.

“They need to be able to maintain what they already have,” she said.

“I have people often telling me that they have had to change their daily travel routes because they are nervous about using the damaged bridge.”

“People taking their children to school and going to work have to divert from their route and there are only really three ways in and out of the area so this can cause major issues.”

Nicol added that with the Victoria Country Club growing, and the new Athlone Circle development almost complete it would mean more trucks and cars on the road.

“How is the bridge going to handle this increase of traffic?

However, Brooks assured the public that the bridge and road are still safe to use.

He had said in a Witness article at the start of 2018 that due to excessive water in the hillside below the road “the only option going forward is to remove the concrete and replace it with a high strength asphalt” which had been used for the other lanes.

He had said the work would require long-term closures.

Sanral had told The Witness in late 2017 that repairs were expected to start in early 2018.

At the start of 2018, however, Sanral said contractors were expected to be on site by mid-July, but when Sanral was contacted in July, they said repairs would likely only start at the beginning of 2019.

Now at the start of 2019, Brooks has said “the Routine Road Maintenance team has kept the slow lane safe with any patching that has been needed”.

He added that Sanral’s contracted maintenance team is currently looking at the option of milling out some of the concrete together with asphalt patching on the ridgey road.

“The route including the bridge is regularly monitored by the Route Manager once a day,” said Brooks.

“The bridge is also inspected on an ad hoc basis by Sanral engineering staff, the last inspection having taken place on January 18 this year. The road is inspected daily and any areas of concern are fixed as quickly as possible.”

Brooks also said the signage warning motorists of the ridge is in place together with speed restrictions through the affected area. “The signs are in good condition and have sufficient reflection at night,” said Brooks.

Brooks added that the temporary props are still in place supporting the bridge in place of the damaged column.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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