Cape Town – The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (Sanral) has investigated various options for urgent and necessary upgrades and repair work to the current operational South Bore of the Huguenot Tunnel, with minimal disruption and inconvenience to the road user.
“We have over the past few months fielded various questions with regard to the closure of the tunnel and the duration thereof, while upgrades are underway,” said Sanral Western Region Manager, Randall Cable.
In taking into account the travel patterns of road users, peak traffic times, the economic impact of a full-scale closure and detour routes, we have come to the conclusion that the essential upgrades and repairs to the South Bore could be done without having to close the tunnel completely for extended periods of time.
“At this stage it seems viable to do these repairs mainly during night times, when traffic volumes are at its lowest, to ensure the tunnel can be operational during day time. This may involve intermittently only permitting light motor vehicles through the tunnel and diverting all heavy vehicles along alternative routes for short periods of time,” he said.
Towards the end of 2017, Sanral hosted tunnel experts from around the world for a conference on Road Tunnel Operations.
From this engagement, two outcomes were clear. Sanral has to:
(i) ensure that sufficient systems are in place to communicate with road users to direct them to safety in case of an emergency in the tunnel and;
(ii) design and implement the commissioning of the North Bore to ensure that the tunnel meets international standards in terms of safety and operations.
Refurbishment of the South Bore is currently planned to commence in the second half of the year and be completed by January 2020, while construction on the North Bore is targeted towards January 2021 and finally twin bore operation could be effective by December 2025.
Alternative routes are available and include Paarl –Du Toit’s Kloof Pass –Worcester (±62 km) and Paarl -Gouda -Tulbagh –Worcester (±121 km). Depending on origin and destination, the N2 is also an option.
“We will in the coming months make final announcements with regard to the scheduled repairs and upgrades to ensure that road users are fully informed of the work being carried out and the effects this may have on traffic flow,” concluded Cable.
The key is to ensure that we give real-time accurate information to road users, so that they may plan their trips accordingly.
- The South Bore was completed and opened to traffic in March 1988
- Major transportation link between the Western Cape and the interior of South Africa.
- The 3.9km long tunnel reduces the distance between Paarl and Worcester by 11km
- Eliminates a climb of some 500m over the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, which by its nature imposes severe constraints and safety concerns for the road user
- Significant contribution to the national economy (forex saving in the order of R1,224 billion) in terms of savings in travel time (24 million hours)and vehicle operating costs (fuel saved = 4.5 million barrels of crude oil), as well as a reduction in accidents.
- Served over 100 million vehicles over the past 30 years