Peter Brown repair delayed

2018-07-13 16:25
A truck that falls within the legal weight limits drives over the damaged Peter Brown bridge.

A truck that falls within the legal weight limits drives over the damaged Peter Brown bridge. (Ian Carbutt)

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The damaged bridge on the Peter Brown exit from the N3 will survive another six-month delay before repairs begin, if the weight restrictions on trucks crossing the bridge are strictly enforced.

However, the severely uneven tarred surface of the N3 southbound leading up to and beyond the off-ramp is “dangerous”.

This is the view of a KwaZulu-Natal- based civil engineer who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity.

All other experts consulted to date were reluctant to openly comment on the condition of the bridge due to their links to the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), which is responsible for the upkeep of the national roads network. The N3 from Cedara to Heidelberg is maintained by the N3tc.

The civil engineer’s comments were made after Sanral has again delayed work on the repairs to the bridge and the N3 until at least January 2019. Work to expand and widen another 84 km of the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg has already begun.

Both the Peter Brown bridge and the slow lane of Townhill near the off-ramp have been in a state of disrepair since late 2016. The bridge’s supporting pillar was severely damaged in 2016 when a truck crashed into it, forcing engineers to construct a temporary prop to hold the bridge until permanent repairs began.

Shortly after the bridge was damaged, 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 been subject to many complaints, with motorists avoiding the deep ridges in fear of damaging their cars or having an accident.

The agency told The Witness at the start of this year that permanent repairs would likely commence in July.

Sanral eastern region design and construction manager Ravi Ronny said that repair delays are “due to finalisation of Sanral’s pro forma tender document to bring it line with new regulations which require 30% of the construction value to be subcontracted.”

Ronny said Sanral “is far advanced with its tender documentation for the project” and that it had been sent to the documentation review committee.

“We are confident a contractor would be appointed early in the new year,” said Ronny.

With regards to the N3 expansion, Ronny said the majority of the expansion would occur alongside the existing N3 except at Key Ridge and Townhill.

He said Sanral had made the decision not to add a new toll gate, however a toll roads policy “is being developed by the National Department of Transport”. “If in future, this portion of the N3 is considered for tolling, the Intent to Toll process... will be followed.”

Ronny said if properties are affected by the expansion, the agency will “negotiate with the landowner for a portion of the property or the entire property” depending on the extent of the property being affected.

He said that during the expansion, the agency intended to keep “two lanes open in each direction at all times wherever possible at reduced speeds”.

Sanral had said that the expansion of the N3 was due to the fact that the N3 is “operating near full capacity”.

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