Significant upgrades are under way just outside Kimberley.
The South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) has recently started construction on the upgrading of the three major intersections on the R31 Main Road, between Barkly West and Landbou Road.
The intersections will be turned into traffic circles. The upgrade will also include a new access road, midway between the R31/R357 and N8/R31intersections. The objective is to improve not just the smoothness of the trip, but also road safety.
In their current form the intersections experience regular traffic incidents caused by speeding vehicles. This has resulted in many serious injuries for drivers and passengers and, in some instances, deaths.
Traffic circles safer
An intersection has 24 pedestrian and 32 vehicle conflict points, where the paths of turning vehicles diverge, merge or cross each other.
A traffic circle has only eight and, thus, clearly makes them a safer alternative.
SANRAL’s Western Region Manager, Kobus van der Walt, said the upgrades will increase safety for pedestrians and night drivers.
“This contract makes provision for surfaced sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, along with kerbed, surfaced median islands, within each roundabout approach. The installation of street lighting at each of the three roundabouts and their approaching roads has a significant safety benefit for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists during night-time conditions, as accidents frequently happen early in the morning or late at night, when visibility is compromised,” he said.
Just short of R90-million has been earmarked for this project.
SANRAL is committed to creating engineering solutions for safer roads. However, the buy-in of all road users, including pedestrians, is needed, so that road safety can become a way of life, and not just be a reaction to awareness campaigns in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Last year, media reports indicated that the Northern Cape had the highest spike in road deaths over the Easter period – 175%.
This is alarming. The conscious commitment of every road user is needed to put an end to the carnage.
Though SANRAL is being proactive about saving Northern Cape road users’ time, trouble and injury with this project, it is aware that road works can cause disruptions.
“Road works inevitably give rise to traffic delays, particularly in the absence of alternative routes,” said van der Walt. “The patience and cooperation of residents is deeply appreciated, and we cannot stress enough the importance of extra vigilance and awareness when travelling through the construction areas.”