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Monday Jun 27, 2011

Finishing Cape Town flyovers 'won't ease traffic'

Cape Town's unfinished freeways will not be completed, at least not under Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle's watch.

Responding to a question in the legislature by DA MPL Mike Walters yesterday about when the Eastern and Western Boulevard overheads would be completed, Carlisle said public transport was the provincial government's primary focus for now.

He said there were no plans to complete the freeways, and that any available funding would be pumped into expanding the city and province's public transport network.

"There is no timetable for the completion of the unfinished freeways," said Carlisle.

"We have also been advised that the maintenance of those bridges is not good at all."

Carlisle said it would cost the province R2.5 billion to complete the bridges, funds that were not available.

"There is no point in building freeways," he said.

"That would just result in traffic congestion being moved from one area to another. If we build more roads, we grow the number of private vehicles.

"Under my watch, we will not build more roads for private motor cars. There is no private vehicle solution to Cape Town's road congestion. We have to get people on to public transport."

The Eastern Boulevard freeway, to be renamed Nelson Mandela Boulevard from the middle of next month, was initially conceptualised in the early 1960s when it was proposed that an elevated freeway be built along the Foreshore as part of a ring-road concept for the CBD.

The project was halted in 1977 because traffic volumes at the time did not justify completing the inner viaducts.

In September, Cape Town Partnership chief executive Andrew Boraine called for the incomplete freeways to be demolished.

"We need a decision from the City of Cape Town that the freeways will not be completed, and that the unused bits will be excised with the same precision as the demolition of the Athlone Towers," Boraine said.

In 2007, the provincial legislature heard that the flyovers would not be completed because of a lack of funds.

Last year, Boraine wrote on his blog, "Cities for people", that he was "struck by the sheer waste of space" on the Foreshore.

He listed a number of desirable outcomes for the improved use of the space.

The "booby prize" would be to allow the status quo - no decision on completing the freeways - to continue, leaving a "barren urban wasteland" in place indefinitely, he said.

"I know there are many other competing priorities in our city... but when are we going to grasp the nettle and agree that the second phase of the Foreshore freeways as originally planned will never be built, and that the extra bits must now come down?" Boraine said.

He told the Cape Argus earlier that the land could be put to much better use with projects such as the provincial urban regeneration project, housing and mixed-use developments.

The provincial government and the city have yet to make a decision about the unfinished freeways.

Cape Argus

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