The major road upgrades between Cato Ridge and Ashburton interchange will ease traffic congestion and increase safety on that stretch of the N3 national road in KwaZulu-Natal.
This is according to the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (Sanral) when it gave an update on the work that is currently underway on the N3.
Sanral said the three work packages, which form part of the greater N2/N3 corridor upgrades, were awarded in the fourth quarter of 2020 and construction began in the first quarter of 2021. The upgrade of the N2 will focus on a 55km length, from Lovu River, on the KZN South Coast, to Umdloti, on the province’s North Coast. The N3 upgrade focuses on an 80km section from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.
The awarded projects include the 19.4-kilometre stretch from Cato Ridge to the Dardanelles (commonly known as Umlaas Road) Interchange; 26.6 kilometres from the Dardanelles Interchange to Lynnfield Park and Lynnfield Park to Ashburton Interchange which will be just over 32 kilometres.
Dumisani Nkabinde, Sanral’s eastern regional manager, said the upgrades of the N2 and N3 in KwaZulu-Natal form part of the national government’s key strategic integrated projects (SIP2): Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor.
He said SIP2 aims to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs, improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities and raise efficiency along the corridor.
“Work on Dardanelles to Lynnfield started in January 2021, while Cato Ridge to Dardanelles and Lynnfield Park to Ashburton began in April 2021.
“These upgrades will include the widening of the N3 carriageways to four or five lanes in each direction, and the reconfiguration and upgrade of most major interchanges along these route sections,” said Nkabinde.
The greater N2/N3 corridor upgrades are expected to take between eight to ten years to complete and create up to 15 000 job opportunities over the duration of the construction.
Such investment in roads infrastructure upgrades, especially in rural and underdeveloped communities, Sanral said, provides an opportunity for generating economic growth, alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and increasing international competitiveness.
Nkabinde said the three awarded projects will take on average 42 months each to complete.
“While Sanral aim to maintain the same number of lanes during construction as currently available, this is not possible at all locations.
“Motorists will be affected by reduced speed limits which are necessary to maintain the safety of the construction team as well as motorists.
“Traffic deviations to alternative routes are only expected during emergency situations, for example when a major crash results in closure of the N3. Stop/go restrictions may be carried out on alternative routes and within the interchange areas but will not be carried out on the N3.”
He said the R103 provincial road, which runs next to the N3, will also be upgraded between the outer limits of the contract and can be used as an alternative route for light vehicles.
“Heavy motor vehicles are encouraged to remain on the N3, due to sharp bends and steep gradients on some sections of the R103.
“A new section of R103 will be constructed alongside the N3 on the southern side between Camperdown Interchange in the West and the existing R103 in the East.
“The new section is required to improve traffic flow along the R103 by removal of the multiple stop streets within Camperdown,” said Nkabinde.
Motorists are advised to take note of the construction activities and to be observant of the advance warning signs, and restrictions, when travelling past the construction work zones.
“Traffic delays should be expected throughout the construction period. Road users are encouraged to allow additional time while travelling or to travel outside peak periods and switch to high-occupancy transport modes where possible,” said Nkabinde.