Multinational infrastructure consultant Africon is conducting two significant road projects for the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Africon is providing the construction design and supervision on the first project, which construction company Basil Read, in a joint venture (JV), is constructing at a cost of about R1,2-billion.

Africon sector leader for transportation infrastructure Philip Hendricks says, “The company has completed the preliminary and detailed designs for the project, and will be involved in the full project management and site supervision of the construction of the project. “The company’s commitment to the project began in November 2006, when it was first appointed for the preliminary design work.”

This project is a road improvement project on the N1, from Brakfontein to the R21 inter- change, commonly referred to as the ‘flying saucer’ interchange.

The 9-km section will be widened to the inner or median side and at some places to the outer or shoulder side of each carriageway, and includes the rehabilitation of the existing road and the erection of freeway lighting along the entire length of the road. It also includes the rehabilitation and upgrading of three interchanges, the addition of auxiliary lanes, the widening of four underpass bridges, the John Vorster interchange bridge as well as the Hennops River bridge. New bridges to be constructed include a new off-ramp bridge to Technopark, at John Vorster interchange, and a new incrementally launched bridge with two new loop bridges at the Flying Saucer interchange.

An interesting feature on this project is a nine-span, 240-m-long, flyover bridge, that will be incrementally launched. The bridge will carry the new west-to-north directional ramp over the N1 and R21 carriageways towards Rigel avenue on the N1, in a northerly direction.

The Basil Read JV, which includes civil engineering companies Roadcrete Africa and Dip Civils, was appointed as the contractor at the end of May, when preliminary construction work on the project started.

Hendricks says the contractor is already on site and that a significant challenge on a project of this nature is the accommodation of the large volumes of traffic during construction work. “Construction work on the project at this stage is on track. “The contractor is busy with preliminary works such as the addition of new lanes. It has been challenging erecting the concrete medians, while ensuring that traffic flow is not impeded,” he adds.

Project Two
The second project that Africon is involved in the GFIP is on the N12, section 19, between the R21 and Daveyton interchanges. This is a 9,7-km high-trafficked route linking areas such as Benoni, Brakpan, Boksburg and Germiston with Johannesburg to the west and Witbank to the east.

The contract for the detail assessment, preliminary and detail design, and construction supervision has been awarded to Africon in a JV with structural and civil engineering firm Asch Consulting Engineers and multidisciplinary consulting engineering company Vela VKE Consulting Engineers.

The project is currently ready to go out on tender and the successful contractor should be appointed early next year. The total contract value could amount to about R1,3-billion, which will only be confirmed once the tenders for the construction work have been obtained.

Africon has been involved in the pavement assessment of different rehabilitation options to upgrade a section of road. The company’s scope includes improved drainage designs, geometric upgradings, road safety audits, bridge widenings, pavement designs, going forward with the tender in terms of the tender document, tender analysis and assisting the client in appointing a contractor for the project.

Construction work on the project has not yet started, with early next year as a possible starting date for the project. The project should take about 24 months from starting date to completion.

Hendricks says the GFIPs are significant projects for Africon to be involved in, which bodes well for the company. Sanral is to be commended as projects of this nature make a huge difference to the economy in terms of development, traffic flow and the easing of congestion on the roads.

“A significant challenge on the entire GFIP is to enhance what can be done with the available space to improve capacity, with the road reserve already restricted,” concludes Hendricks.