Sandown Road Link bridges local infrastructure gaps

Road over Rail Bridge on the new Sandown Rd link. Road over Rail Bridge on the new Sandown Rd link.

TRAFFIC in the Tableview / Parklands / Sunningdale area is a serious problem for people who live and work in the area, with bottlenecks causing near gridlock daily on the routes into, and out of the city.

The area has grown exponentially, and a further central business district, the size of Claremont, is planned in the area within the next few years. 

Achieving this growth means building the appropriate infrastructural links in the area, and CBN was invited to a join the key role-players at the infrastructural equivalent of a roof wetting (a “bridge wetting”) for the newly built Sandown Road bridge, where we found out about the role that this road, including a ‘road over rail bridge’, will mean to the residence, business community and developers in the area.

The 2.5 km long Sandown Rd link incorporates a ‘road over rail’ bridge. The project is a Public, Private Partnership (PPP) between the City of Cape Town, and property developers including ASKA Property Group and Milnerton Estates Property Developers partnership as well as Garden City Developers. The road itself will link the R27 and the M12, ultimately linking to the N7, thereby connecting Tableview to Durbanville Hills. 

Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport for the City of Cape Town, says, “The city has recently done a study of the traffic congestion in this part of the city, and there are many missing links as far as roads that will provide relief for that traffic congestion. Sandown Road is one of the most important roads in that scheme of missing links. To see this happening and to celebrate the fact that this bridge is now complete is really gratifying.” 

Clarke points to the mass of undeveloped land around the bridge and paints a picture of a Claremont sized CBD area, complete with schools, high density housing, industrial zones and mixed use areas. “Perhaps even a hospital.”

Tony Clark of ASKA Property Group says, “Parklands Main Road and the Sandown Road Link will form the spine of the transport in the area. The MyCiti bus will eventually travel along Sandown Road and Parklands Main Road, linking the area to the City. The bridge, as it stands, is the first part of the bridge structure. In years to come it will be doubled, and another bridge will be built adjacent, which will carry further lanes.”  

Don Hugo, Engineer with HHO Africa says that the reason this project has been the success it has, is that the role players came together as a team. HHO Africa designed the project, including the road and the bridge, and he says “Our biggest challenge was to bring together various role players in the design team, as there is a planning element, a conservation element, a design element, engineering element and construction element … so we needed to bring all those role players together and to work together as a team.”

Brink and Heath are obviously proud of the bridge itself.  Building started in September 2012 and is scheduled to be finished this month. “There have been some major obstacles to overcome,” says Peter Heath, COO of Brink and Heath. “The road runs adjacent to a river, which is a sensitive environmental area, the bridge had to be built over the railway line without interrupting the trains, and there were so many parties involved, it took many years of negotiation between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and the property developers to even get the project off the ground.”

ASKA’s Tony Clark weighs in on the issues of permissions as well, “It is a massive project, and it has taken an unfortunate amount of time to get the necessary zonings in place, and to get the necessary approval. There have been some really obliging people who have been really pushing to get it, but there have been delays in certain of the departments … We would have liked this to have happened several years ago, but it is what it is.”

To get to the nitty-gritty of the project, Graham Sanders, Contracts Manager with Brink and Heath told CBN that the biggest (construction) challenge was that the piling had be done adjacent to the existing fuel pipeline, which runs from the refinery to Saldanah Bay, so extreme care had to be taken with the piling for the bridge. “There were also many sub-surface services that had to be constructed, including storm water, sewer, water and various communications ducts which were installed for future use in the expanding Parklands area.”

Another hurdle, according to Sanders, was the utilisation of local labour. “Firstly to find suitable labour and then to train them for the specific jobs that Brink and Heath required. This is a challenge that I feel we have been very successful in overcoming, and I truly hope that we can take the people we have trained with us to future projects.” 

But with the end in sight, the streetlights going up and the landscaping being done and plans being made for the Western Cape Premier to open the road, none of the people at the party want to contemplate the hardships for too long. 

“The contractors have done a fantastic job,” continues Clarke, and Heath seems pleased as punch with the bridge.  

“This is the biggest bridge we have ever built, the timelines were tight and it was a big project. We have learned a lot, and we are certainly not intimidated by bridges anymore,” says Heath. “It is a field we would love to get into more now.”

Sanders says “From the many public phone calls that I have fielded, there is an incredible demand for the new link road. The existing roads are heavily congested, and there seems to be a big need for this road. From what I can see, it won’t be very long before this road will have to be doubled up. I think this road will reach its saturation point in a very short period of time.”

Brett Herron says, “This road unlocks a lot of development. Without this road, all that development, residential, commercial, mixed use, industrial would not be possible.”

“The road will unlock development opportunities that will really stimulate the economy of the city of Cape Town, and ultimately provide jobs, provide homes to people, and from that perspective, it is a very good news story.”

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