With clear relief on their faces, motorists from Phoenix and Mt Edgecombe smiled as they swung onto the new ramp at Mt Edgecombe Interchange for the first time on Monday morning (5 March) as they traveled towards the N2 southbound to Durban.
The one-kilometre long bridge – one of the longest structures ever built in South Africa over one of the busiest intersections in KwaZulu-Natal – forms part of the improvements being undertaken by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) at the N2/M41 Mt Edgecombe Interchange in the north of Durban, connecting Phoenix and Umhlanga with Durban and the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
“Only one lane of the new ramp from Phoenix and Mt Edgecombe will be open to traffic to enable the temporary ramp that had been in use to be demolished to allow for completion of the construction of a new ramp from the N2 northbound taking traffic towards the Gateway shopping complex. The second lane of the new ramp will be open in about a month’s time.
“Motorists are urged to proceed with caution and adhere to speed limits. The patience and co-operation of motorists will be appreciated,” said Corne Roux, SANRAL Eastern Region project manager for the Mount Edgecombe Interchange.
The iconic Mt Edgecombe Interchange, which is one of the largest projects presently being undertaken by SANRAL in KwaZulu-Natal, is more than a masterpiece of award-winning architecture – it is a vital artery of the greater eThekwini metropolitan highway system for easing traffic, relieving congestion and is also a significant business enabler.
Due to the expansion of the Umhlanga and La Lucia Ridge areas, the existing interchange had been operating at capacity with vehicles backing up on the M41 and onto the N2 in peak hours.
An additional 40 000 vehicles enter or leave the N2 from the M41 daily resulting in substantial queuing of vehicles during the day.
This, together with expected future expansions and anticipated development of the Cornubia area, required the existing interchange to be upgraded in order to improve the flow to and from the N2 and M41 to the supporting road network.
The Mt Edgecombe interchange upgrade has changed the landscape forever and is sure to become a well-known landmark in years to come.
The new four-level interchange facility provides at least two lanes on each of the major movements. The upgrade includes the implementation of directional ramps, eliminating the need for controlled signalisation, thus ensuring free flow of traffic in all directions.
The construction has been jointly funded by SANRAL and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport, and has been undertaken by the South African branch of Italian construction company CMC di Ravenna.
Two incrementally launched bridges are part of the interchange upgrade. One bridge which is 948m long – the longest incrementally launched bridge in South Africa – joins the Mt Edgecombe side of the M41 with the N2 South. The other bridge is 440m long and joins the Umhlanga side of the M41 with the N2 North.
The 948m bridge has 23 piers and two abutments and was built from two ends – one portion launched on a curve and the other on a straight.
To provide for the safety of pedestrians, a pedestrian bridge has been constructed over the N2 and will connect to new footways.
In addition, lighting will be installed to ensure the whole interchange is lit at night for increased safety.