Upgrading the R63 from Fort Beaufort to Alice would lower vehicle operating costs and assist the provincial economy’s integration, the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) said. The three-year project would result in wider and safer roads with skills development and temporary employment for an estimated 500 people.
“The upgrade of this road means there will be improved access to the market for surrounding settlements, as well as economic opportunities in other parts of the province,” said SANRAL Southern Region Manager, Mbulelo Peterson.
The provincial government transferred the R63 route, in 2012, to be incorporated into the SANRAL road network.
While the 23km road will remain a single carriageway, the upgrade will increase road capacity from Fort Beaufort to Alice. The current 7m surfaced road with gravel shoulders, sharp curves, and steep slopes is set to be be upgraded to a wider 13.4m cross-section, including paved shoulders, gentle curves, flatter geometry, and climbing lanes, Peterson said. The project also included upgrading new community access roads and pedestrian walkways. The construction of temporary deviations would minimise the impact of the traffic flows during construction activities.
The Fort Beaufort main road, Campbell street, is to be rehabilitated. This includes the relocation of the old unreliable sewer system, and water mains that run in the middle of the street.
At least 60 SMMEs would be appointed over the construction period, with a target of approximately 20 women-owned businesses, Peterson said.
“All SMME contractors will receive training before their construction starts, with ongoing mentoring throughout the project. Apart from training on how to tender, the successful sub-contractors will also receive training on installing culverts, construction of concrete side drains, kerb laying, construction of gabions, road signs erection, and pavement repair failures.”
A material testing laboratory, managed by SGS Matrolab, has also been established to test the properties of construction materials used in upgrading the road.
Some of the major roadworks on this project include:
- Construction of mass earthworks and new pavement layers;
- Installation of pre-cast pipe and box culverts;
- Construction of concrete inlet/outlet structures;
- Erection of guardrails, road signs and fencing where required;
- The widening of two existing bridge structures, namely the Kat River and Brak River Bridges;
- Construction of a new bridge over Mxelo river;
- Replacement of two road-over-rail bridges at Kwatinidubu Rail Bridge and Kwezana Rail Bridge;
- Installation of street lighting from the Kat River Bridge, just outside Fort Beaufort, through Campbell Street to the new Sports Centre Development;
- Relocation of the water main and sewer system in Campbell Street;
- Upgrading of the drainage system and parking facilities in Campbell Street.
“The construction of a wider road with minimal vertical and horizontal curves will lead to safer and smoother travel by the public,” Peterson said.