Structural defects on the Kaserne and Selby sections of the M2 bridge has worsened over the last six months, much to the concern of the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), that will now be given R58 million to lessen the current risk to drivers.
Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba said the JRA alerted him to the urgent need for maintenance operations. Built in the 1960s, the bridge is now near the end of its design lifespan, requiring urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation, he said.
Mashaba said the report by a bridge specialist service provider indicates one of the bridge’s columns has severe cracks that in turn affected the structure. JRA engineer Thomas Chongo explained that the column would have to be replaced. Because of irregular maintenance, he said, stormwater clogs up and water gets into the bridge itself, causing the structural failures.
“As an immediate measure, that part of the bridge is no longer in use until such a time as all repairs are completed and declared safe for use,” Mashaba said.
Being one of the main motorways which link the N3 and N2 with the city and western parts of Joburg, the JRA said it would aim to cause as little disruption as possible once work starts on the 12-month project in October. The agency aims to do most of the work at night and hopes to close only one lane.
Currently, a section of the right-hand lane eastbound, which has since been closed off, shows how much the bridge has moved because of the structural defect. A section of the road has sunk since the bridge is not supported equally on all sides. This has already led to some motorists claiming for damages to their vehicles.
Joburg’s City Manager, Dr Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni, said he is sure residents will understand that these disruptions are necessary. He said he could not say from which projects financing will be cut, but that this project takes precedence.
Because of this emergency project, the construction of the Modderfontein Road Bridge, Avenue Bridge and Joe Nhlanhla Bridge will also be delayed.
Mashaba asked motorists to make use of the R24/Albertina Sisulu Road and other local streets in the meantime.