The timing for the upgrades is scheduled for September, October and November 2019.
Following extensive research and planning, the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) has put together an operations plan for the much-needed upgrades to the Huguenot Tunnel.
After 31 years of continuous and safe operation, the electrical and mechanical systems have neared the end of their operational life spans and need replacement to ensure compliance to international safety standards.
At an engagement session held in Worcester, SANRAL’s regional leadership presented the operational requirements and time schedule of the upgrades to stakeholders from local and provincial government, the road freight industry, agricultural sector and local business community.
“In considering the travel patterns of road users, peak traffic times, the economic impact of a full-scale closure and detour routes, we have decided that commencing in September 2019, the tunnel would be closed to traffic from 10pm to 6am, Monday to Thursday. This means that the tunnel will be fully open from Friday to Sunday for all road users,” said Randall Cable, SANRAL Western Region Manager.
Holiday traffic considered
The timing for the upgrades is scheduled for September, October and November 2019. Work will then be suspended during December and early January, to accommodate the increased volumes of holiday traffic that make use of the Huguenot Tunnel.
Once the schools re-open in January work will resume and the off-peak closure will come into effect again.
During specific upgrades to the ventilation system, the tunnel will be completely closed to all heavy vehicles, for five days in each direction, 10 days in total. These dates will be confirmed closer to the time.
Cable said: “We are particularly mindful of the effects the off-peak closure may have on the long-distance freight community and the agricultural sector, where farmers may be transporting goods to Cape Town for export purposes, under night–time conditions in line with harvesting times.
“Where transport schedules can be amended to ensure heavy vehicles pass through the tunnel before 10pm, we strongly advise this. However, where this is not possible, one of the various alternative routes should be taken. We are exploring further engagement with the agricultural sector in this regard.”
Alternative routes include Paarl–DuToit’s Kloof Pass–Worcester (±62km), Paarl–Gouda-Tulbagh–Worcester (±121km) or Wellington-Tulbagh-Ceres (± 74km.) Depending on origin and destination, the N2 Grabouw to Villiersdorp (41km) is also an option.
“Where unforeseen changes to the schedule are necessitated, we will communicate these as soon as possible to ensure road users are fully informed of the work being carried out and the effects this may have on traffic flow,” concluded Cable.
Various other social media platforms will also be used to convey real-time and accurate information to all stakeholders.
While SANRAL apologises for the inconvenience these upgrades may cause, the safety of every road user passing through the Huguenot Tunnel, is our prime objective.