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The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project

Gauteng’s growing traffic predicament and the measures being implemented to alleviate the problem have been obvious to Gauteng road users since the end of 2007, when work began on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). Currently the highways in and around Johannesburg are walled off with concrete barricades and littered with an array of construction machinery which squeezes motorists into areas of road with little room for error.

While Gauteng motorists have been aware of GFIP for sometime now, there still seems to be confusion as to what the actual objectives of the project are, and how these objectives are to be met.

  • The goal of the GFIP scheme is to provide an interconnected network of inner and outer ring roads which aim to solve Gauteng’s obvious congestion issues and provide first class access to the historically neglected western and southern townships of Johannesburg.
  • The project will see the implementation of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). The ITS system has been piloted on the Ben Schoeman highway between Johannesburg and Tshwane and includes CCTV surveillance and high quality lighting to assist in the early detection of incidents and accidents.
  • Travel Demand Management (TDM) will address requirements such as high occupancy vehicle lanes and facilitate the development of the Bus Rapid Transfer (BRT) system.
  • Route patrol services have being included into the GFIP scheme, as well as a close working relationship with emergency services to ensure that breakdowns and accidents are attended to with maximum speed and efficiency.

So there you have it, the objectives of GFIP explained in a nutshell. But when will the project be finished? How much does it cost and who will be paying the bill?

Project deadlines are set for May 2010, just in time for the World Cup. However, contingency plans are in place in the event of not meeting the deadlines, whereby all construction will be halted for the duration of the World Cup, and resumed once the event is over.

The first phase of the GFIP project is valued at approximately R11.5 billion. Unfortunately for motorists, a feasibility study conducted in 2007 established that a user pay system would be the most efficient means to finance the upgrades. For motorists this means toll roads. Fortunately the toll system being implemented is one of the most advanced in the world and will not impede the flow of traffic in any way. Vehicles operating in the Gauteng area will be issued with transponders which will facilitate an automatic transaction every time the vehicle passes under a toll gantry. Toll gantries will be situated 10 km apart along the highway and will also be fitted with cameras which will be used to record and bill vehicles that are not fitted with transponders. The new tolls will add approximately 30c per km to motorists’ travelling expenses and the non payment of tolls will become a traffic offence, with fines being collected through the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) legislation.

The GFIP project will allow for the continuing economic growth in the Gauteng region and will contribute R29 billion to the GDP and R13 billion to the regional Geographic Gross Productivity by the end of 2009. GFIP will also put an end to the traffic nightmare that motorists have been subjected to, and will improve travel times and road safety on the highways. While motorists may begrudge the new toll system, the gains that GFIP will allow in both quality of life economic spheres will offset the heightened cost of using the roads.

Information sourced from www.NRA.co.za

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