Industry body the South African Federation for Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) is confident that funds for future road expansions will be secured.

Safcec executive director Henk Langenhoven tells Engineering News that Safcec has full confidence that funds will be secured for these expansions as a result of a well-run programme currently implemented by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

In terms of the Gauteng Free- way Improvement Programme (GFIP), he points out, Safcec expects phases B and C to start in early 2011.

The R15-billion GFIP is currently in phase A and is an extensive upgrade and construction programme of about 561 km of freeways for Gauteng. The cost of the full programme, which includes phases B and C, will be of the order of R55- billion.

Phase A1 is expected to be completed by 2010 and will include about 185 km of freeway, including pavement rehabilita- tion, interchange (I/C) upgrades and land additions on the National Road 1 (N1) and National Road 3 (N3), sections of the N12 and the R21.

Phase B is scheduled for completion in 2020 and involves the further construction of about 63 km of new freeway sections.

Phase C is expected to be completed after 2020 and will comprise the construction of a further 95 km of new routes subject to financial viability.

Sanral has reported that package C of phase A of the GFIP is progressing largely according to schedule. Most of the major work is expected to be completed by April 2010, in time for the FIFA soccer World Cup, with some acti- vities to be completed after April.

Construction work will see the freeways being widened from the current three lanes to four lanes in each direction. However, in certain areas, such as between the Allandale I/C and the Buccleuch I/C, there will be six lanes in each direction.

The project also includes the rebuilding of several bridges, such as the Le Roux street bridge, which will be demolished and replaced with a new bridge providing adequate clearance for trucks and ade- quate width to span all four lanes.

Meanwhile, Langenhoven points out that the toll road expan- sions in the Western Cape, on the Winelands route, will hopefully be out to tender by the end of this year and construction is set to start towards the end of 2010. Another possible tender is the toll road due for the Eastern Cape. “Further- more, government transfers to Sanral for national road upgrades and maintenance programmes are about R6-billion a year and this will increase,” says Langenhoven.

Currently, a study is under way to determine the state of, and the money available for, road infrastructure in provincial, major metropolitan and about 100 local authority areas. This, he says, is expected to be highly influential in accelerating spending on road infrastructure, which is currently inadequate. This spend is expected after the first phase of the GFIP has been completed.

Stimulating Local Economy
Langenhoven reports that the GFIP has certainly stimulated the local construction and related supply industries. “Remember, we create between 7 and 12 job opportunities for every R1-million spent in construction. The real benefit will, however, be in the long term, when higher efficiency is achieved in the transport sector, which will provide a major boost to the productivity of the region and, therefore, accelerated economic growth,” he concludes.

GFIP in Progress

Project Description
The GFIP is a long-term freeway upgrade and expansion project, and entails the eventual upgrade and construction of about 561 km of freeways. One of the main aims of the project is to stimulate economic growth in the province.

The proposed upgrades will include the construction of addi- tional lanes inclusive of high-occu- pancy vehicle lanes; auxiliary and climbing lanes; certain I/C and intersection upgrades; the upgrading of certain sections of the existing roads and pavements; and the provision of road lighting.

The proposed upgrades will take place at the following locations: the N1 Section 20 between the Golden Highway and the 14th avenue I/C (Floracliffe); the N1 Section 20 between the 14th avenue and the Buccleuch I/Cs; the N1 Section 20 and 21 between the Buccleuch and the Brakfontein I/Cs (Ben Schoeman highway); the N3 Section 12 between the Grey avenue (Alberton) and the Geldenhuys I/Cs; the N3 Section 12 between the Geldenhuys and the Buccleuch I/Cs; the N12 Section 18 between the Uncle Charlie’s (South Gate) and the Elands (Germiston) I/Cs; and the R21 road between the N12 (Boksburg) and the Hans Strijdom I/C (Pretoria).

The proposed minor improvements will include an areawide roll-out of the intelligent transport system currently operating on the Ben Schoeman highway and the provision of road lighting. Minor improvements will also take place on the R24, and on the M1 between Corlett drive (Birnam) and the Buccleuch I/C. Further, the project will include the proposed upgrade of a section of the N1 and minor improvements to the N4 and the N14 on the Gauteng freeway network.

The proposed N1 upgrade will start at the Brakfontein I/C (N14 split) and will end at the R21 I/C. The proposed minor improvements will include improvements to the N14 between Krugersdorp and Brakfontein and to the N4 between the Proefplaas and Hans Strijdom I/Cs.

Funds for the infrastructure upgrade will be raised through a tolling system. An electronic toll collection system will become operational after 2010, with the building of 50 gantries on existing roads. The tollgates will use etags and surveillance equipment linked to processors with nameplate recognition software to detect vehicles when travelling underneath a toll gantry. The processors will, accordingly, determine the distance travelled and bill the road user. The GFIP will be implemented in three phases, with Phase A being the initial construction works.

Value
The Department of Transport (DoT) through Sanral is investing more than R12-billion in the first phase of this project. For the second phase, the DoT will invest R20-billion, and R23-billion will be invested for the final phase. This project will be financed through the ‘user pays’ principle, and it will allow the roads to be funded without resorting to the national fiscus for such projects.

Duration
Phase A1 is expected to be completed by 2010 and will include the substantial upgrading of about 185 km of freeway, including pavement rehabilitation, I/C upgrades, and land additions on the N1 and N3, sections of the N12, and the R21. Phase A2’s expected completion date is 2012. This phase will include the substantial upgrading of a further 65 km of freeway, and less intensive upgrading of other freeways in Gauteng. Also included in this phase is the completion of some of the proposed new freeway sections.

Phase B’s completion is sche- duled for 2020 and involves the further construction of about 63 km of new freeway sections. The construction of these routes will be phased in when the financial feasibility allows it, and in coordination with all spheres of government in terms of the prio- rities identified.

Phase C is expected to be completed after 2020 and will comprise the construction of a further 95 km of new routes, subject to financial viability. Any of these routes may, however, be implemented sooner, should it become a priority and financially feasible to do so. Client

The project will be run by Sanral, the provincial government and the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni metropolitan councils.

Key Contracts and Suppliers
Basil Read (I/C improvements at the N1 section), Siyaya joint venture (JV) (work package A and E), GFI Contractors JV (work package B), GLMB JV (work package C and F), Basil Read JV (work package D), CMC JV (work package G), Raubex Construction (upgrade of the R21), Power Group (upgrade of the R21 section 1 and 2), and Tosas (subcontractor – bituminous binders). Sanral has awarded the the contract for the implementation and opera- tion of a multilane free-flow tolling system to Electronic Toll Collection JV.

Latest Developments
June 2009

Sanral has reported that the R1,7-billion package C of the GFIP is progressing largely accor- ding to schedule. Major work on package C is expected to be completed by April 2010, before the World Cup, with some activities to be completed after that date.

Construction work will see the freeway being widened from the current three lanes to four lanes in each direction.

However, in certain areas, such as between the Allandale I/C and the Buccleuch I/C, it will have six lanes in each direction. Work also includes upgrading several bridges along the route. The single bridge spanning the highway at the Allandale I/C will be demolished and replaced with two new bridges. Further, the whole I/C is going to be upgraded from the existing diamond I/C to a free-flow I/C with no traffic lights.

The Le Roux street bridge is a so-called overbridge and will be demolished, as it does not provide adequate clearance for trucks using the N1. It is also not wide enough for all four lanes to pass underneath. This means it will be replaced with a new bridge. Nelmapius bridge, another overbridge, will also be demolished and replaced, as the current structure is not wide enough to accommodate a four-lane highway.

The Olifantsfontein I/C will also be given additional capacity, with a new bridge being built alongside the existing one.

Upon completion, these two bridges will be ‘fused’. This 1 550-t addition is being jacked into place from one side of the highway, which ensures there is minimal disruption to traffic flow on the N1. The contractor on package C is the GLMB JV.

Meanwhile, Sanral has reported that commuters from other South African provinces will be able to register for a day pass for the open-road tolling (ORT) system to be implemented as part of the GFIP.

A pass issued to out-of-province or nonregular commuters will provide access to the freeway network for a day. A grace period for payment will be provided for an individual who is not aware of the ORT system and does not have a valid account, and for a commuter using the Gauteng freeway for the first time. These commuters will be automatically registered on the account system used for the ORT system.

Different vehicle classes will pay different tariffs, and frequent users may get discounts if they have registered accounts. The ORT system will use different identifiers to scan vehicles, including an electronic tag, which will be issued to a road user. The user pays a deposit for the tag, which can be used as credit when the user is tolled.

The electronic tag will be positioned behind the rear view mirror on the windscreen, where a reader on a gantry will be able to track it. Gantry structures built across the freeway will be used to mount cameras and scanners. Vehicle classification on the new tolling system will differ from the classification system used on other national tolling roads.

The vehicles will be classified volumetrically, instead of measuring the number of axles of the vehicle, classifying the vehicle as either a light, medium or heavy, and charges will then be allocated accordingly.

Following the vehicle classification, information from the gantry will then be sent electroni- cally to the ORT back office, to be sorted and packaged correctly. The information will then be sent to the transaction clearing house that houses the banking and accounting systems.

According to Sanral, legislation governing the tolling system will not be tolerant of commuters who do not make payments. If the commuters have a valid account, and have not paid, they will then receive an invoice. If the commuter fails to pay after 14 days, the invoice will be passed to the violation-processing centre (VPC). The VPC may then link on to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence database and send out an infringement notice, after which, the commuter will then have 30 days to pay. With every invoice that the commuter receives, an additional fee will be added to the initial tolling fee, until the fee is paid. Failure to pay may result in points being added to the demerit system. It will also require the user to pay outstanding toll fees when renewing drivers’ licences.

The contractor, who provides the roadside equipment, such as the tag readers and cameras, will be held responsible for system failures, such as issuing payments to the wrong vehicle. The challenge for Sanral will be the use of false and duplicate number plates, which will result in incorrect billing. However, implementation of the new intelligent number plates, which have a built-in identification chip, will prevent duplication.

April 2009
The GFIP will enter an even busier period over the next few months as many new tenders are to be assessed and awarded. The biggest portion of GFIP construction tenders were awarded by May last year. These seven works packages are to be progressively completed from May 2010 up to 2011.

However, selected portions of the work, such as the section on the N1 between the R21 I/C and the Atterbury I/C, as well as the R21 between the Pomona I/C and the Benoni I/C, will be completed towards the middle of this year. Some of the contracts have experienced delays, owing to excessive rain and the shifting of services, such as power lines, telecommunications cables and water pipes, for which contractors are dependent on third parties.

Work on the N1 between Centurion and Pretoria has now also been delayed by four to six weeks as a result of a truck, loaded higher than the permissible 5 m, crashing into the Rigel avenue bridge in March, causing damage estimated at R4-million.

Subsequent to the first tranche of seven contracts awarded by May last year, the contract for the R21 upgrade from Pretoria to the Pomona off-ramp, near Benoni, was awarded later in 2008. However, this project will be completed before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in June.

Sanral is in the process of evaluating the tender for the upgrading of the N12 south of Johannesburg, between the M1 and Reading I/Cs. A winner is expected to be announced this month. The tender for the section of the N12 between the Rietfontein N12/R21 I/C and the Tom Jones off-ramp, in Benoni, closed in March, and is expected to be awarded in May. The contract for the section of road on the R21 from the Pomona I/C to the N12, and the overlay on the R24, will go out on tender this month.

The new contracts are valued at roughly R2-billion, taking the construction contract value for the GFIP to an estimated R14,5-billion. Once these tenders have all been awarded, most of the 185 km of road, which forms part of the initial phase of the GFIP, will be under construction. Further, the GFIP will effectively see the majority of the province’s roads – certainly its busiest roads – being tolled at what is currently estimated to be around 50c/km by the end of next year.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Amanda Strydom
DATED: 9th October 2009