Work starts on N3 corridor’s mega makeover
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has started work on the mega project to upgrade the N3 Corridor between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The 84km freeway, known as KwaZulu-Natal’s Gateway to Africa, is planned to be upgraded in phases over the next eight to ten years.
Phase 1, which includes the critical sections between Cato Ridge and Pietermaritzburg, the Key Ridge realignment and the EB Cloete to Paradise Valley section, will be upgraded over the next five years by 2023.
According to Sanral detailed designs are being drawn up for the reconstruction of the N3 between Durban and Cedara at an estimated cost of between R22 and R24 billion.
“The plans include a ring road around Pietermaritzburg to avoid the notorious Town Hill section of the N3.”
A strategic project
Sanral Eastern Region design and construction manager Ravi Ronny said the N3 Corridor is essential if one of government’s strategic integrated projects linking the Port of Durban with Gauteng, South Africa’s economic heartland, is to succeed.
He said the Sanral Board has directed that the project must be given priority and construction on the critical sections must commence within the next two years.
There are various work packages along the corridor with each package taking between 36 to 42 months to complete.
“Environmental impact assessments are also being commissioned while routes are being plotted to increase the capacity and safety of the freeway which will have up to four and even five lanes in each direction over certain sections,” said Ronny.
Ensuring the seamless flow of freight
Twelve proposed new routes are being investigated to eliminate the problems at Town Hill. A 14 km ring road around Pietermaritzburg and north-east of the current N3 alignment is being considered as one of the more favoured routes.
Ronny said the N3 carries in excess of 40 000 vehicles per day around Pietermaritzburg and consists of a mix of urban commuter traffic, long distance traffic and substantial heavy vehicles, with some sections in excess of 25% heavy vehicles.
“In excess of 40 million tons of freight per annum are carried on the N3 corridor, with approximately 9 000 heavy vehicles using the national road per day.
“Durban is by far South Africa’s busiest port with over 80% of goods moving along this corridor by road.
“Therefore, the need to consider the best economic solutions to ensure the seamless flow of freight is very important to this corridor,” said Ronny, adding any blockage on the N3 causing its closure was tantamount to a national crisis.