Gauteng motorists can expect the ramp-metering system piloted on various roads in greater Tshwane to become a permanent feature as early as January.

The SA National Roads Agency – in charge of the project – believes that the system will work once motorists get used to it.

Ramp metering, aimed at regulating traffic joining the highway to ensure better flow, has been introduced on the Samrand, New Road and Rooihuiskraal on-ramps on the Ben Schoeman highway.

Sanral spokesperson Wendy Watson said the agency had been monitoring the system since September. From the information “it appears that throughput for the freeway increased with approximately 400 vehicles per hour”.

The system – entailing traffic lights at on-ramps – has angered motorists.

Watson said: “Wherever ramp metering has been implemented internationally, there was initial public opposition and resistance, especially from on-ramp users who experience longer delays when entering the freeway system”.

The Automobile Association appealed to Sanral to review the “ineffective” system as it was an “unnecessary cost burden on drivers” who often found themselves trapped in traffic.

But Watson said the benefits outweighed the impacts and road users were slowly getting used to it.

“Several complaints have initially been received but as motorists understand the aim of the ramps and experience the benefits on the freeway, complaints have reduced.

“We are aware of public frustration, not only of those at on-ramps, but of all freeway users, experiencing traffic congestion and delays especially in peak hours. We have not been overwhelmed by complaints from the public.”

“Piloting will be completed once optimum traffic flow conditions have been achieved on the freeway with minimal impact to the supporting network,” she said.

“If this is achieved, and successful, ramp metering will also be implemented at other on-ramps.

“This is an attempt to optimise operations for the freeway network. This benefit was proven internationally, and we are testing it for us.”

“Several other actions are taking place on the freeway network that forms part of Intelligent Transport Systems. These include the shoulder lane between Allandale and Buccleuch (off-ramps) that increased traffic throughput with 1 700 vehicles per hour. The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project aims to substantially upgrade the network and interchanges.”

“The upgraded Metrorail, completion of the Gautrain and the rapid bus system will also from part of an integrated transport solution.

“The Ben Schoeman freeway will consist of between four and six lanes per direction. Construction is expected to commence in 2008, and completed by mid-2010.”

Each traffic system installed will cost the taxpayer R300 000. New housing and office developments add an annual traffic growth of up to 7 percent every year.