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Friday Oct 26, 2012

Steenberg property owners complain about Ou Kaapseweg

Answers are being demanded from the City of Cape Town about why recommended measures to reduce major traffic snarl-ups and the many accidents - some fatal - on Ou Kaapseweg in the past 10 years have been ignored.

Peak hour on Ou Kaapseweg.

Traffic problems on Ou Kaapseweg have become acute in the past four and a half years while the rehabilitation of Main Road has been under way, and even more so in the past few months since a three-way stop system was introduced as work began on the section between Kalk Bay and Clovelly.

Proposed remedial and safety measures, in three reports, have included creating eight passing lanes - three in the southbound and five in the northbound lanes on Ou Kaapseweg - as well as an arrester bed at this road's intersection with Steenberg Road at its northern end and improvements at its intersection with Silvermine Road, where there were 50 accidents in six years from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2008.

The city has been accused of doing "precisely nothing".

But the mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, Brett Herron, said the proposal for passing lanes on Ou Kaapseweg had been "broadly considered" in 2008 but not investigated at the level of detail required to confirm that creating such lanes would be economically viable. The installation of an arrester bed had been reviewed before and was now under further review following recent accidents.

A group of seven civic organisations and the body corporate of the Steenberg office park, together with the Home Owners' Association of the adjoining Silvertree Estate at the northern end of Ou Kaapseweg, have each sent a lawyers' letter to the city, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the problems and possible shortterm improvements.

The civics say they are reserving their rights around broader discussions relating to the impact of further developments being approved by the authorities in the far south.

The city's transport department says it has not been told of a meeting.

The civics' letter notes that Ou Kaapseweg has been the primary road link to the far south since 2008 for several reasons, including extensive roadworks. The letter cites proposed safety measures and improvements referred to by specialist consulting engineers in reports of May 2002, February 2008 and August 2009.

The lawyers' letter, quoting from the 2008 report, says: "Ou Kaapseweg is operating at close to capacity conditions and has limited capacity to absorb flow increases (unless climbing lanes improvements are implemented)."

It notes that this report states that the introduction of climbing lanes "is considered a critical component in maintaining acceptable levels of access to the Deep South (sic) during Phases 2 and 3 of the (Main Road rehabilitation) project" and to establish "much-needed safety projects".

However, the civics' legal letter says that "despite the clarity and urgency of (these) proposals, precisely nothing [author's emphasis] has been done to implement the proposals in respect of Ou Kaapsewegbefore the Main Road reconstruction.

  • There have been at least 15 accidents in the past 10 years at the northern end of Ou Kaapseweg where it intersects with Steenberg Road,

    In one accident, a truck ended up on the sports fields of Reddam School where pupils were playing games.

    According to the legal letter sent to the City of Cape Town on behalf of the Steenberg office park body corporate and Silvertree Estate homeowners, a "high percentage" of the "many serious accidents" here have involved large trucks and heavy-duty vehicles - including four this year. Many were loaded runaway trucks whose brakes failed.

    But this is denied by Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, who said in response to Cape Argus questions that past reviews, including interviews with drivers involved in accidents, had revealed that the problem was not braking or losing control on the descent towards the intersection. "Rather, drivers attempted to turn the corner into Steenberg Road at inappropriate speeds, leading to loss of control in the intersection itself."

    The legal letter acknowledged that although this intersection had been improved to ease traffic flow, traffic engineers' recommendation of creating an arrester bed for runaway trucks had not been implemented.

    "The probabilities of a major accident involving multiple fatalities at this intersection are high... The situation is untenable and cannot be allowed to go on."

    Cape Argus

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