SANRAL scoops top engineering awards for road projects

SANRAL has received the highest accolades awarded by the South African Institution for Civil Engineering for two major road development projects in KwaZulu-Natal.

Vusi Mona, spokesperson of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL), says the recognition by SAICE confirms the agency’s reputation as a world-class manager of road construction projects. Both projects have been recognised for their innovation and contribution to excellence in the engineering sector.

The Umgeni Road Interchange on the N2 just north Ethekwini will be opened by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, this week. Construction started in March 2011 and one of the primary challenges was to continue with work while the road was still carrying traffic.

Prior to the upgrade, up to 16,000 vehicles were travelling through a conventional diamond-shape interchange, controlled by traffic signals, during morning and evening peak hours. This led to chronic congestion on the freeway and in Umgeni Road, a vital artery for communities in Ethekwini.

The project included the building of four new road bridges and two pedestrian bridges, the widening of Umgeni Road / M19 and the construction of ramps onto the freeway.

An innovative construction method, known as incremental launch, was used to build the bridges. This method entails the building of the entire bridge from one end of the structure and sliding sections of the deck into position through the use of specially designed ball bearings.

The new interchange has already resulted in a significant reduction in traffic congestion and journey times and will contribute to improved road safety for pedestrians and motorists on a road that was previously known for its high number of accidents.

The Umgeni project also won the top accolade given by the KwaZulu-Natal branch of SAICE and the prestigious Fulton Award from the Concrete Society of Southern Africa.

The Candella Road Project was celebrated by SAICE in the Transportation category. The project forms part of SANRAL’s “green roads” initiative designed to reduce the long-term environmental impact of road construction.

An ultra-thin layer of asphalt was laid over the 8.5km section of the N3 between Candella Road and Paradise Valley. This innovation makes the road safer for commuters because it increases skid resistance.

Mona says both the projects contributed to SANRAL’s commitment to create job opportunities and use the services of emerging SMME contractors. On the N2 more than R57-million was allocated for labour and 265 people were trained in various skills. The Candella Road project used the services of 50 small and local companies and more than R7-million was spent on salaries and wages.