Road users travelling along the N4 Toll Route in and around Nelspruit (Mbombela) now have the option of taking the N4 Nelspruit Ring Road around the central business district (CBD). The new N4 route will branch off at Mataffin, skirt Riverside Mall, bridge the R40 and the Crocodile River and continue through to Karino where it will rejoin the N4 on the eastern side.
The N4 Toll Route (Maputo Corridor) links the financial hub of Gauteng with the Port of Maputo in Mozambique. The route extends from east of Pretoria to the Mozambican Port.
One of the key objectives for the creation of the Maputo Corridor route, and its world class road infrastructure, was (and still is) to stimulate regional cooperation and economic development by reviving the trade and tourism route between South Africa and Mozambique.
Over the last decade, the Maputo Corridor noticed a steady annual traffic growth, including a 10% annual growth of freight vehicle traffic along the route.
N4 Nelspruit Northern Bypass
The new Nelspruit Ring Road is set to ease some of the traffic congestion through the city, and will provide a convenient bypass around the CBD, especially to heavy vehicles, and easy access to the many tourism destinations in the surrounding area.
In just two years rough terrain made way for 19,7km of expertly engineered road.
The project, costing R750 million, was split into three sections and subdivided into different contracts. The consulting and contracting engineers were VelaVKE/WBHO, SNA/CMC and SNA/Rumdel.
A huge challenge to the engineers, and one of the reasons for the high cost of the project was the hilly terrain and winding rivers. No fewer than 17 bridges had to be constructed – these include three rail crossings and seven major culverts.
The longest of these structures is Bridge B13 crossing the Crocodile River. This 316m long bridge had to be constructed by diverting a portion of the river whilst protecting the main sewer line from Nelspruit. Some of the pillars of this bridge were placed in the river itself. Hippos and crocodiles are not uncommon here, and contractors often had to brave these treacherous creatures too.
Bridge 12, at 158m long and 30m high, crossing the Friedenheim gorge, was another challenge to construct. A 440 t crane was used to lift and put the tension beams of 31,54m and weighing as much as 54 t in place.
The entire bypass route consists of two 3,7m lanes (single carriageway in each direction) with 2,5m tarred shoulders and passing lanes where required.
The road will be open to traffic from the 13th of June 2010. Minor work will still be carried out next to the surfacing edge, in the road reserve. Temporary road signs will indicate work areas.
“Given the magnitude of this project commissioned by the National Roads Agency (SANRAL), and the numerous challenges that had to be overcome, toll concessionaire, Trans African Concessions, is extremely proud of the success of this expansion initiative. The Maputo Corridor’s road infrastructure is without a doubt world-class,” says Arthur Coy, chief executive officer of TRAC.
TRAC was awarded a 30-year concession contract in 1997 to build, operate, maintain and expand the N4 toll route, and thereafter to return it to the respective States – South Africa and Mozambique. Since the inception of the concession contract, TRAC has effectively shortened the travelling time between Pretoria and Maputo by up to three hours. This has had a positive impact on economic growth and development. Over the last twelve years, TRAC has witnessed the substantial growth of towns and cities along the N4 Toll Route, and the expansion of industries and commercial businesses.
“We are committed to leave a legacy. The benefits derived from a convenient, world-class road system, far outweigh the cost,”