Ben Schoeman highway extension plans on hold.

Posted On Friday, 08 August 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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A proposal by the Gauteng Superhighways Consortium to extend the Ben Schoeman Highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria has been put on hold by the National Roads Agency while more studies are undertaken to determine the feasibility of some of the routes.

Infrastructure IndustryA proposal by the Gauteng Superhighways Consortium to extend the Ben Schoeman Highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria has been put on hold by the National Roads Agency while more studies are undertaken to determine the feasibility of some of the routes. 

The postponement of the project leaves the Gautrain Rapid Rail link as the only initiative aimed at reducing traffic congestion between the two cities.

The plan proposed by the consortium involves widening the roads to four lanes in each direction, converting two lanes into tolled express lanes and leaving the other two untolled.

The measure promotes the use of private transport while Gautrain aims to attract motorists to public transport.

The road agency's CEO Nazir Alli said it had conducted a number of feasibility studies of the routes.

"We looked at the social, economic and environmental impact. We also looked at the financial viability. We found out that one of the options was not viable," Alli said. He would not say which option was not viable. 

Alli said the agency had commissioned studies by universities and professional bodies to look at other options. He said the studies could take another year.

An environmental impact assessment study was undertaken last year by Arcus Gibb on behalf of the consortium and the agency.

Some of the concerns of the Arcus Gibb study pertained to worries about noise levels, poor air quality and environmental sustainability. Some local authorities were also concerned about the possible damage to local roads as a result of traffic diversion, and the cost of maintaining them.

According to the original timetable, the tenders for the construction of the planned extension to the highway should have been awarded in the second quarter of this year, with construction starting in the last quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, the date for the submission of tenders to build and operate Gautrain has been moved from end June to end September.

The winning bidder would be announced at the beginning of next year while construction was expected to begin six months later.

The winning consortium would build 80km of rail track between Johannesburg and Pretoria and between the Johannesburg International Airport and Sandton.      

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