The intelligent transport system (ITS), which was piloted on the Ben Schoeman highway in Johannesburg, is to be expanded to encompass more of Gauteng’s highways.

Minister of transport Jeff Radebe this morning announced a R55 billion upgrade of the province’s highways, from 180km at the moment, to 560km by 2018.

The first phase will see the existing highway capacity upgraded by the year 2010 and according to Radebe, “with the use of technology we aim to optimise the use of existing road capacity”.

Redebe says the successful implementation of the ITS system on the Ben Schoeman led to the national Department of Transport deciding to invest in fibre optic cables and CCTV cameras for the rest of the province’s highways.

By the end of October, an additional 180 cameras will be added to the existing system, with 49 more variable message signs being placed on the network by April 2008.

According to Radebe, the recently introduced ramp metering system, an extension of the ITS, will also “improve traffic times and optimise traffic flow” on the province’s highways.

Bad news too

The total highway upgrade will be funded through what the minister calls the “user-pay” principle.

According to the minister, toll technologies will be used to allow for the free flow of traffic, with 47 electronic gantries being operational by the 2010/11 financial year.

“It is estimated that contributions will accrue to the GDP of R14.2 billion and R15.3 billion in 2008 and 2009 through our freeway scheme. The Gauteng GGP for the same years will benefit to R6.3 billion and R6.7 billion.”