Residents welcome efforts to ease traffic

TASNEEM HASSAN

The contractors doing the multi-million rand upgrade on the N1 have set up a construction yard at the Jan Burger Sports Park in Parow North for their site office and equipment, and while residents and motorists are bracing for some pain over the next three years, they say the gain of easing traffic congestion will be worth it.

Kayle Isaacs from Parow North saw the site on her way to work about two weeks ago.

She lives near the sports park and heard some knocking noises that gave off an echo coming from the site in early March, but that had only been during normal working hours.

She hopes the road project will get traffic flowing again. Ms Isaacs has lived in the area for six years, and for the past two years, she said, traffic had increased dramatically. It now takes her about 80 minutes to get to work in the CBD, double the time it used to take her.

Marcia Jacobs, of Parow, often drops her two sons off at the sports park on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons when they go running. She also hopes the project will bring relief for long-suffering commuters.

She has lived in Parow for only three years, but has noticed worsening traffic conditions in the last year. Her journey to work in the CBD 35km away used to take her about 50 minutes. It now takes one and a half hours.

“Traffic congestion on the N1 is so bad. I am sure that the multi-million project will benefit us all and ease traffic,” she said.

Mariaan Meyer, the president of the Tygerberg NLK Athletics Club at the Jan Burger Sports Park said the Martin & East construction yard would not affect the club, as the firm’s camp was on an unused piece of land.

“We will go on as per normal with our training and activities. We are very happy that they are upgrading the road – that is something non-negotiable in terms of helping the heavy traffic congestion on the N1,” said Ms Meyer.

Bobby Black, the chairman of the Jan Burger Sports Park facility management committee, said Martin & East’s presence was more of a boon than a bane, as the firm was replacing the gravel roads with hard-surfaced ones.

“We are grateful for what they are doing. Their good work will benefit us, and them being there is a long-term benefit for all N1 road users,” said Mr Black.

Aqeel Salie, who lives in Parow, also supports the road upgrades. He said: “It takes time to make something good happen. So even though it’s an eyesore now to the community, later we will all benefit.”

He said it was hard getting to work on time because of N1 congestion.

The R487m project by Martin & East is due to be completed by the end of February 2019 and will see two-lane carriageways widened to three lanes.

The work will be over the 9km stretch of the N1, from Plattekloof Road to just beyond the Old Oak interchange.

Severe congestion plagues this stretch of the N1 in both morning and afternoon peak periods, with about 120 000 vehicles carried there daily.

Apart from widening the carriageways, the four-phase project will see several other improvements:

* New auxiliary lanes will improve weaving conditions.

* The existing concrete median barrier will be extended to prevent head-on collisions.

* There will be improvements to intersections at various parts of the freeway.

* The Old Oak West bridge will be demolished and rebuilt and other freeway bridges will be repaired.

Ward councillor Leonore van der Walt said in exchange for being allowed to use the sports complex for its site office and construction equipment, Martin & East had agreed to several offset projects, including the repair of the dilapidated roads to the athletics club and the German International School Cape Town, which would save the City about R650 000. The firm had also agreed to build several parking bays at the Alpha Angling Club.

Martin & East’s site office will cover 2351m2, to be covered in gravel road-building equipment, such as generators, will occupy a 1020m2 area, which will be hard-surfaced with cement and stone.

The entire site will be fenced and patrolled by two security guards 24 hours a day.

The contractor will be liable for all water and electricity, to be provided by the City, and Ms Van der Walt said the firm had promised to keep the site clean and that noises heard to date would die down as they were related to the set up of the camp itself.

Handre Roux, the contracts manager at Martin & East, said the camp would house management teams and consulting engineers and the offices would be open during normal working hours.

He said construction had already started and most permits had been granted.