Bridge safe despite repair delay

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Maritzburg Sun

A difference of opinion between South African National Roads Agency Ltd. (Sanral) and National Treasury in how to prioritise local subcontracting has led to a 10-month delay in the repair of the unstable and rickety Peter Brown bridge.

Hugh Brooks, Sanral Eastern Region project manager, said the Preferential Procurement Regulation 2017 has led to a difference of opinion between Sanral and National Treasury in how to prioritise local subcontracting for the repair to the bridge.

“This well-documented delay has meant that Sanral has been unable to finalise our procurement documents. This has resulted in extensive delays to numerous projects throughout the country that includes the Peter Brown bridge repair as well as the Townhill slow-lane repair,” said Brooks. Repair dates have been postponed numerous times since the bridge and road fell into disrepair in late 2016 and early 2017. The bridge’s supporting pillar was severely damaged in 2016 when a truck crashed into it, forcing engineers to construct a temporary prop to hold the bridge up until permanent repairs began, he said. While motorists have questioned the safety of the bridge, Brooks has assured road-users that the bridge is safe from collapse, although vulnerable from other heavy vehicle impacts as is with any other bridge across a national road.

“There is no possibility of the bridge being repaired sooner since there is no emergency. Supply chain processes will have to be strictly adhered to. The supervising consultant and contractor tender documents are being drafted. Realistically if we were to finalise the tender documents by end of February, then with the procurement process, we should have a contractor on site before the end of the year,” he said.

He added that Sanral’s contracted maintenance team is currently looking at the option of milling out some of the concrete together with asphalt patching on the road.

Brooks also said there was adequate signage in place warning motorists of the ridge together with speed restrictions through the affected area.

“Temporary props have been erected to adequately support the bridge in place of the damaged column. The route including the bridge is monitored by the route manager once a day. The road is inspected daily and any areas of concern are fixed as quickly as possible,” said Brooks.

The estimated repair cost of the bridge is fairly minor according to Brooks. “The repair cost will be incorporated into the contract to repair the slow lane of the N3 up Townhill. The estimated cost would be in the region of R1 million, while the road repair costs is estimated around R120 million.”

He said when repairs do begin, as with any road construction site, adequate measures with suitable signage will be employed to ensure the safe passage of motorists along the N3 during construction. “Due to the slow lane closure, rush hour traffic could result in travel delays through the construction zone. This will be communicated closer to the time prior to construction commencing. The bridge repairs would only require a few months to fix, but as noted previously, this work would be incorporated into the longer road repair contract that will take around 18 months,” said Brooks.

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