The City of Joburg has begun rolling out a massive road and bridge upgrade programme in order to improve mobility, lower the cost of doing business, and reverse the apartheid legacy of spatial segregation in the city.

Resurfacing work on the Soweto HighwayResurfacing work on the Soweto Highway. (Photo: the roll-out of the programme in Newtown on Thursday, 6 August, Executive Mayor Parks Tau said the City would spend R365-million in this financial year on upgrading roads and highways, including the Soweto Freeway and M1 and M2 highways, and R152-million on rehabilitating and building bridges across the city.

Of the total of R1.4-billion that has been budgeted for road, bridge and storm water infrastructure improvements in 2015/16, R50-million will be spent on resurfacing the M1 highway, R10-million on improvements to the M2 highway, and R222-million overall on road resurfacing across the city.

Mayor Tau said this was part of a 10-year, R110-billion infrastructure investment programme that was in line with the City’s holistic strategy to ensure a better life for all residents through transforming the spatial layout of Johannesburg.

“The upgrade of our roads infrastructure is part of our efforts to create a better future for our residents, where we can link jobs to people and people to jobs, in line with the objectives of our spatial transformation programme, the Corridors of Freedom.”

In recent years, the City has launched a number of initiatives, overseen by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) and other agencies and departments, to implement a growth strategy based on the principles of transit-oriented development.

During recent inspections of 814 bridges across the city – with a combined asset value of R15-billion – the JRA found that a number of these were in need of maintenance, upgrades, expansion and/or reconstruction.

These include the Oxford, Federation and Double-Decker bridges on the M1 highway, where work will start in September. Work will also be carried out on the Nelson Mandela, Booysens Road, Queen Elizabeth and Le Roux Avenue bridges.

Work is also under way on the Naledi Bridge in Soweto, to link the communities of Naledi and Protea.

Pedestrian and vehicular bridges in Soweto that are prone to flooding, including the Jabulani/Molapo, Kinini-Leselinyala, Zulu, Mzilikazi, Kaalfontein, Klipspruit West, Slovo Park and Diepsloot bridges, will all be raised above the flood line.

A further nine bridges have been repaired and rebuilt at a cost R49.4-million after being damaged in flooding last year. These include the culverts in Main Road in Riverbend Agricultural Holdings, Felstead Road in Northriding, Third Street in Chartwell, Watercombe Street in Farmall Agricultural Holdings, Niven Road in Douglasdale, and Coleraine Drive in Sandton.

Work on bridges in Cornelius Road over the Klein Jukskei River in Weltevreden Park, Ballyclare Drive over the Braamfontein Spruit in Bryanston, and the Riverside Road Bridge in Ivory Park was also carried out.

Mpho Kau, Acting Managing Director of the JRA, said that work on some of these bridges would result in road closures.

“Motorists should please bear with us during construction, as this is all part of a plan to make the City better and brighter. Congestion will be a thing of the past once all the rehabilitative work has been undertaken.”

Roads and bridges “form a critical part of the transport infrastructure of a growing city”, Kau said. “Thus their maintenance and rehabilitation is important. It ensures that the movement of people, as well as goods and services, continues effectively and efficiently – having a positive impact on local economic growth.”