TWO areas in Joburg’s inner city will be turned into walkable pedestrian routes as part of the Inner City Commuter Links Upgrade Project.

The two were identified by the Johannesburg Development Agency, the JDA, which is driving the project. They are the Braamfontein and Johannesburg Art Gallery Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system precincts.

Joy Jacobs, a development manager at the JDA, explains: “As the city is experiencing considerable congestion, the concept of a ‘walkable urban environment’ is significantly hindered.”

So the JDA, the Johannesburg Roads Agency and the City’s departments of transport, and development planning and urban management have agreed that the inner city needs a traffic and transport plan to manage non-motorised transport movement in conjunction with public and private transport movement.

With this in mind, the Johannesburg Inner City Traffic and Transportation Study was undertaken, which looked at traffic flow and made recommendations to improve it. This study is the basis of the commuter links upgrade.

The purpose of the upgrade is to establish a pedestrian-friendly and walkable urban environment using a network of public spaces and improving circulation around and access to taxi, bus and rail facilities.

The project will attempt to:

  • Build an inner city that is functional and livable;
  • Create a safer and more walkable network in the inner city;
  • Create continuity and connectivity for pedestrians towards and between places of work, public transport and other facilities in a legible and effective way;
  • Optimize the use of existing facilities;
  • Improve the quality of the public realm to enhance safety and perceptions of safety;
  • Complement urban management initiatives to clean up and maintain the inner city;
  • Convey to inner city residents that the City is intent on creating a safe, healthy urban environment in which they can live in dignified circumstances;
  • Improve investor confidence through commitment demonstrated by the City; and
  • Convey to investors that the inner city is a viable investment location in which future value returns are not at risk.

Jacobs says: “The main intervention in [Braamfontein] is on the Biccard Street Bridge, which involves a significantly wider pedestrian sidewalk on the eastern side through lane reduction and reversal. Leyds Street is also being reconfigured and its southern pavement widened.”

Braamfontein Precinct

Work has been identified for the current financial year. Along Biccard and Simmonds streets, the pavement will be extended across the bridge, between De Korte Street and President Street. New paving and street furniture and lighting will be added.

New paving, street furniture and lighting will also be installed along Harrison Street, between Smit and Bree streets; along Wolmarans Street, between Biccard and Rissik streets; and along Smit Street, between Biccard and Rissik streets.

Along President Street, between Simmonds Street and Luthuli House, new paving and street furniture will be installed. The pavement along Leyds Street, between Biccard Street and the entrance to Park Station, will be extended, and new paving, street furniture and lighting will be added.

Pavements and parking will be reconfigured, and there is new paving, street furniture and lighting planned for Simmonds Street (north), between Smit and Leyds streets, as well as along Loveday Street, between Smit and Leyds.

Art Gallery Precinct

The Art Gallery – BRT Precinct is bounded by Wanderers, Smit, Twist or Troye, and Plein streets. Special focus will be made on the link between Wanderers Street (Park Station) through Joubert Park (the Johannesburg Art Gallery) to Twist or Troye Street (BRT stations).

“We plan to do a lighting upgrade in this precinct in the first part of the 2011/2012 financial year. Further work in the precinct … will focus around the creation of a pedestrian-friendly and walkable urban environment, through the establishment of a network of public spaces and improved circulation around access to formal taxi, bus and rail facilities, and aims to support BRT ridership and precinct development around the BRT station,” says Jacobs.

Work in this area will include reconfiguration of the pavement and parking, new paving, street furniture and lighting along Bok Street, between Wanderers and King George streets. Along the Joubert Park Link, new paving, lighting and seating will be installed.

In the footsteps of the Inner City Regeneration Charter, a strategic document called the Inner City Urban Design Implementation Plan was drawn up that outlines the ways in which the City will address issues of urban regeneration and economic development in the inner city.

The plan was approved by the council. It reflects the critical need to establish a walkable network of pedestrian friendly routes that are supported by good quality public open spaces that link people to the public transport switch points. These include a range of private and public amenities in the inner city.