New Joburg traffic hell: Good luck getting to work
The mayor of Joburg has announced the closure of the M2 motorway
Johannesburg motorists, beware – traffic is about to get worse.
Mayor Herman Mashaba announced the closure of the M2 motorway south of Johannesburg – linking mainly the eastern and western routes of the city – on Monday.
This comes after the roads’ Karsene and Selby bridges were closed on the eastern side last August because of damage to the stabilising pillars.
Now inspectors have found the support structures on the western sides of the two bridges have moved, affecting their stability.
As of February 28, the average 12,000 motorists using the motorway during the peak hours in the morning and evening will need to find a new way to get to and from work.
The full closure, from Crown Interchange to Maritzburg Street, will be implemented at 6am until October, when the repairs are expected to be completed.
Johannesburg Road Agency MD Goodwill Mbatha said at a press briefing on Monday that only 6% of the 902 bridges managed by the city were in good condition.
The remaining 94% needed immediate intervention, he said.
According to Mashaba, the cost of repairing the bridges will be more than R6.5bn.
He said an overall amount of about R12bn was needed to fix 4,000km of failed road infrastructure, a budget the city did not have.
TimesLIVE reported in 2018 that the city was facing a R170bn infrastructure backlog and that the bridges on the M2 were of particular concern. Mashaba said the bridges, which were built 50 years ago, had not had maintenance since 1994.
Meanwhile, an estimated 12,000 peak morning and evening motorists would need to find an alternative for getting to and from work every day.
Mashaba and various members of the JRA and JMPD inspected the Selby and Karsene bridges on Monday morning.
The mayor said he had been up all night concerned over the backlash he would receive from the announcement, “but it’s better that residents are mad at me over the road closure than if they were mad at me because people died because a bridge collapsed”.
He said he had learned last week that the road was in a critical state. “If we do not close the motorway now, residents would have to drive over it at their own risk, and we are not prepared for people to die because of it.”
City of Joburg transport MMC Nonhlanhla Makhuba said she had hoped the eastern side of the bridges would have been repaired first before closing the western side.
The Selby bridge support beams had huge visible cracks which, especially with the recent rains, had increased in size.
Mbatha explained the water had reacted with the concrete, causing it to expand.
An inspection of the Karsene bridge showed vandalism as another factor contributing to the bad state of the M2.
Along the cordoned-off bridge was evidence of scores of people living within the structures supporting the bridge.
Makhuba said vandalism of infrastructure was a challenge throughout the city.
“We have people living within the bridge pillars who use or remove infrastructure to make themselves more comfortable. Some will make fires which heats the concrete, causing it to expand and creating cracks within the bridge. There are also people who have diverted gutters, which means rainwater is channelled around the beams, eroding the soil and causing instability,” she said. She said the JRA could not only rely on the JMPD to help with vandals and that the department needed help from other law enforcement to prevent vandalism of the road.
Motorists were advised to make the following alternative travelling plans:
Westbound traffic travelling towards Roodepoort from the east: Keep on the N3 and make use of the N12 to access areas west and south of the city.
Eastbound traffic travelling towards Germiston to the west: Keep travelling on the N1 make use of the N12 and N3 to access areas to the east of the city.