An innovative new walkway connecting Alexandra and Sandton will provide safe passage for commuters between the township and the suburb, reducing travel times and traffic accidents.

Pedestrians and cyclists who commute between Alexandra and Sandton will no longer have to avoid dangerous traffic; instead the City of Johannesburg and the JDA are putting plans in place to construct a walking and cycling bridge between the areas.

According to Thanduxolo Mendrew, JDA CEO, the bridge is destined to be as iconic an addition to the City’s skyline as the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

He said: “The City’s Nelson Mandela Bridge has become one of the iconic structures of the southern gateway and this bridge will equally change the City skyline as an important northern gateway. At the same time it will serve as an important link between Sandton and Alexandra to show that the futures of these areas are inherently connected.”

The project was initiated after a City of Johannesburg traffic and transport study in the area indicated that a significant number of people commuted between Alexandra and Sandton. These people travel along Rautenbach Avenue and Roosevelt Street to Grayston Drive, on their way to work in the Sandton CBD. The City will be upgrading this route in line with its Non-Motorised Transport Policy and Complete Street Concept. The distance travelled by an average 10 000 pedestrians daily is approximately 5.2km.

Mendrew said that careful thought had gone into designing the bridge as the JDA needed to come up with something that spoke to the concept of the Corridors of Freedom.

“In 2013 the executive mayor introduced the Corridors of Freedom as areas where there can be walking, cycling and public transport which is safe, reliable and affordable. This bridge satisfies that basic need that talks to citizens’ rights to a spatially integrated city,” said Mendrew.

The Corridors of Freedom form part of the City’s effort to undo apartheid spatial planning, used to separate people on the basis of race.

The Corridors of Freedom construction programme includes the new bridge over the M1; a new public transport interchange at Watt Street in Alexandra; and a dedicated walk and cycle way from No 3 Square in Alexandra to Sandton near the Grayston Avenue Bridge along Katherine Street.

A significant component of the project is the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, and accompanying trunk routes across the city. The Alexandra/Sandton walkway is part of the Rea Vaya Phase 1C trunk route and is expected to be implemented in 2015.

Mendrew said the bridge is set to be one of the most noteworthy structures constructed on the route.

Construction on Phase 1C under way

Construction has started on the Rea Vaya Phase 1C route, which will be divided into two sections: the Section 15 BRT trunk route, and the Section 8 BRT trunk route.

Section 15 of the trunk route is around 12.6km and starts at the corner of Empire and Victoria avenues, proceeds left at Empire and Clarendon roads and traverses Louis Botha Avenue (which becomes Pretoria Main Road) until the intersection of Lees Street and Pretoria Main Road in Wynberg.

Section 8 of the trunk route is around 4km and connects Alexandra to Sandton.  It starts at the corner of Pretoria Main Road and Lees Street, crosses over the M1 highway via a proposed flyover, continues left into Katherine Drive, then into West Street and ends at the Sandton Gautrain Station precinct.

There will be other upgrades to improve infrastructure along the route. In Alexandra, 30.2km of pavements, for walking and cycling, will be upgraded and improved. Traffic calming measures and street furniture along roads adjacent to the BRT and along feeder routes will also be introduced, and a new bus depot will be constructed along Vincent Tshabalala Road in Alexandra.

The Phase 1C route will eventually connect the inner city to Alexandra and the Sandton CBD.

Watch this video of an artist’s impression on what the walking and cycling bridge will look like.