The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) plans to install 76 electronic tollbooths along the Gauteng highway system, to generate cash for a 2010 Soccer World Cup-linked infrastructure upgrade.

Sanral toll and traffic manager Alex van Niekerk yesterday briefed the Gauteng legislature on the plan.

He told MPLs motorists will be billed 50c per kilometre travelled. The open tollgates, which will use e-tags and video surveillance equipment coupled to processors running nameplate recognition software, will be placed on most highway on- and off-ramps.

The processors will tag vehicles as they enter the highway system and will check them out when they use an off-ramp. The processor will then determine the distance travelled and bill the appropriate account.

Van Niekerk told the legislature parts of the N1, N3, N4, N12, N14, R21, R24, R59 and R80 would be fitted with the electronic tollgates. He added that motorists will be billed monthly. Those who do not pay regularly will be guilty of an offence under the Road Traffic Act, he noted.

Offenders will be unable to renew their vehicle registration until they have paid all due bills.

Van Niekerk previously told ITWeb the system will be in place by late 2010, early 2011.

Traffic control

The toll system is separate from the ongoing roll-out of the intelligent traffic (i-Traffic) system on the same highways, although the systems will share some backhaul.

i-Traffic is an integrated system of CCTV cameras linked by fibre optic cable to a central control centre in Midrand. It features variable messaging boards that update motorists on delays, congestion, accidents and travel time, as well as ramp metering and road sensors.

The sensors measure speed and following distance, while the ramp meters control the flow of traffic onto highways. A pilot project will launch shortly at the New and Samrand road ramps in Gauteng.

i-Traffic also has a 2010 application. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli says the hi-tech camera and messaging system will backbone emergency response and traffic control during the World Cup.

The system will provide real-time traffic information to law enforcement authorities, as well as World Cup transport managers. It will also allow emergency services controllers to evaluate the severity of accidents and breakdowns, and react to them as quickly as possible.