The Empangeni Interchange bridge.
The upgrading of 35 km of the N2 between Mtunzini toll plaza and Empangeni interchange on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, which commenced three years ago, is well on track for anticipated completion at the end of June 2019.
The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) is constructing a new north-bound carriageway with the existing road to become the future south-bound carriageway.
Corné Roux, project manager at SANRAL Eastern Region, said within weeks the north-bound traffic will be diverted onto the newly-constructed carriageway just after the Mtunzini toll plaza and diverted back to the existing carriageway just before the eSikhawini interchange.
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He said this will allow the start of the repair of the existing road – the future south-bound carriageway – adjacent to the newly-constructed section.
“Work is progressing well despite the challenges posed by the 60 m deep piles and difficult piling conditions at the Mhlathuze and Umlalazi river bridges, as well as the high rainfall experienced in this part of Zululand,” he explained.
The engineers on the project, UWP Consulting, have indicated that the structures are largely complete, with only the deck of the Empangeni road-over-rail bridge still to be cast.
The bulk earthworks and layers have progressed according to plan and outstanding work is concentrated around the Empangeni interchange.
The R946 million project is one of the biggest road infrastructure developments being undertaken by SANRAL in KZN and is aimed at coping with the increased traffic volumes on one of the country’s key arterial roads.
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Roux said current traffic volumes on the N2 south of Empangeni exceeded 12 000 vehicles per day, with the highest traffic volumes occurring on the section between the eSikhawini and Empangeni interchanges.
When the project is complete, four agricultural overpasses over the N2 would have been lengthened; new bridges would have been built at the R34 Empangeni/Richards Bay interchange and at the P537 Port Dunford underpass; two road over rail bridges would have been constructed; and 16 major box culverts and numerous minor box culverts and other drainage structures would also have been built. In addition, the height of two overpasses would have been increased by jacking up the bridges.
This stretch of the N2 is on a declared toll road and, therefore, the income generated from the toll plazas on the N2 North will be utilised for funding this project.
Since the start of the contract 37 subcontractors have been employed by the main contractor Concor Infrastructure of which 23 have been SMMES who have been paid R76m. A maximum of 541 labour have been employed at any one time, with 428 coming from within the local municipal target areas.