Traffic flowing again as Johannesburg's M2 highway reopens after R160m overhaul

The M2 highway in Johannesburg while it was still under reconstruction.
The M2 highway in Johannesburg while it was still under reconstruction.
Felix Dlangamandla

Johannesburg motorists on Monday no longer needed to battle congestion, detours and frustration as the M2 bridge was reopened following a R160m overhaul that lasted nearly eight months. 

JMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar told eNCA that 300 officers had to be deployed every morning and afternoon to deal with traffic congestion since the start of the reconstruction in February this year. 

Minnaar said criminals took advantage of the heavy traffic, robbing motorists of cellphones and laptops, which necessitated the deployment of a specialised crime-prevention unit. Hundreds of security guards were also deployed by the private sector. 

Outgoing City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Thursday said the initiative was part of his legacy as he prepares to bow out at the end of November.

"The reopening of the M2 motorway, as scheduled, is one of my proudest moments as the mayor of the City of Johannesburg. It is the culmination of many months of sheer hard work by engineers and construction workers led by the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA).

"Back in August 2018, I took the hard decision to close the M2 motorway after I was made aware of the perilous condition of the bridge. The M2 was closed between the Crown Interchange and Maritzburg Street on February 28, 2019, for rehabilitation.

"It  was a particularly tricky decision to make when you take into consideration the ramifications of closing a key motorway linking the east and west of our city," Mashaba said.

Safety not guaranteed

The M2 motorway, which is more than 60 years old, carries approximately 10 500 vehicles per hour in both directions during peak hours.

The closure was necessitated by continuous monitoring and the bridge visual conditions assessment, which indicated that the structural integrity of the concrete elements was severely reduced.

The safety of the Selby and Karsene bridges also could not be guaranteed.

"The scope of the work at the Selby Bridge entailed the demolition and reconstruction of four filed concrete columns and column heads, installation of new waterproofed bridge joints and waterproofing of the existing bridge deck. The failed columns and column heads were due to the ingress of water into concrete structures, which led to the formation of cracks.

"Meanwhile, at Karsene Bridge, the scope included the demolition and repairing of the bridge deck and corbels and installation of new waterproofed bridge joints. The failed support system resulted in the bridge deck having worrying movements. There can be no doubt that it required urgent attention," Mashaba said.

During the construction project, 57 local residents and seven SMME contractors were employed.

Mashaba said eight more bridge structures along the M2 required repairs and rehabilitation, but the JRA does not envisage these requiring any further closures.

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