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Wednesday Mar 12, 2014

Toll booths, not gantries, for Cape highways

Traditional toll booths with booms rather than e-tolling gantries are planned for the proposed N1/N2 Winelands toll highway project, according to the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral).

While the Western Cape awaits the outcome of a court case between Sanral and the City of Cape Town over tolls, Sanral briefed the media yesterday.

Project engineer Tiago Massingue said the e-tolling system, as introduced in Gauteng, was cost effective only when roads carried a huge number of vehicles.

He cited the Ben Schoeman Highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg as an example. It carried 220 000 vehicles a day, making it impractical for each car to stop and pay a toll.

In comparison, sections of highways around Cape Town carried between 52 000 and 160 000 vehicles a day.

“In 30 years from now, if the situation did arise that we jump exponentially to the high volume recorded in Gauteng, then we’ll introduce (e-tolling),” he said.

The DA’s leader in the province, Ivan Meyer, yesterday issued a statement “utterly rejecting any forms of tolling”.

Meyer said highways were vital for transporting people and goods, and tolling here was “economic madness”.

“It will hit poor commuters hardest. It will increase the cost of basic goods like food. It will make Cape Town less competitive and will kill jobs,” Meyer said.

The roads were in excellent condition and there was no need for tolling.

Last May, after the City of Cape Town took the matter to the Western Cape High Court, an interim interdict was granted preventing Sanral from implementing or advancing the toll project in the Western Cape, including the conclusion of any contract or commencement of construction.

The interim relief was granted pending the court’s review of Sanral’s decision to implement the toll project. A review date has not yet been determined.

Earlier, Sanral regional manager Kobus van der Walt said roads needed to be “feasible” to become toll roads.

Massingue said safety components also needed to be quantified before capital was raised for toll roads. “We will not toll any roads if there are no (safety) benefits,” he said.

The only planned toll projects in the Western Cape were the N1, N2 and the by-pass around Knysna. The extension of the R300 had been “canned”, Van der Walt said, because there was no buy-in from the city.

The N1 Huguenot tunnel, which was already tolled, was in need of an upgrade and the ventilation system needed improvement, he said.

Sanral had put effort into upgrading the N7. An 8km dual carriageway with two lanes each way would run between Melkbosstrand and Philadelphia, and eventually as far as Malmesbury.

Randall Cable, Sanral Western Cape’s engineering manager, said the 30-month construction period was expected to be wrapped up by the end of May.

SA road facts

  • South Africa has 14 000 road deaths a year, most of whom are pedestrians.

  • A pothole repair costs between R200 and R400.

  • There are about 18 routine road maintenance projects in the Western and Northern Cape and R196 million is spent on road maintenance.

  • Sanral has a R3.2 billion budget and has spent R3bn

  • There are 240 CCTV cameras in Cape Town.

  • In one week in Dunoon 8 000 pedestrians crossed the N7 illegally.

  • South Africa has the 10th longest road network globally.

    Cape Argus

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