No quick fix for the Sand River bridge

Sand River bridge on 14 August this year . This is the second temporary bridge built in July this year.

There is no quick fix for the Sand River Bridge as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is going to take a long time.

This was revealed this morning by Marius Keyser, senor roads engineer with the Provincial Department of Roads.  Keyser said: “The EIA will be a time consuming effort. There are too many factors involved and owing to the sensitivity of these there is no easy remedy or solution of a permanent bridge being built soon. ”

This means that the thousands of visitors, including youngsters coming here for the New Year’s Eve parties will need to cross this second temporary bridge across the Sand River. Though more sturdy than its predecessor it is already showing some signs of strain.

The Sand River was washed away twice in two weeks in July this year following heavy rainfalls and floods from storm waters. Both times St Francis residents were almost completely marooned until temporary bridges were rebuilt as the R330 road that traverses the river is the only access road to the town and village of St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis respectively.

Asked about the current poor status of the second temporary bridge that could worsen with the hordes of visitors to St Francis this approaching festive season,  Keyser advised that the Roads Department is going to improve the safety of the causeway. This follows a motor accident last month when a car ploughed into the Sand River one night. The four passengers narrowly escaped serious harm, but the car was not drive-able.

“In the next two months we are going to increase the visibility of signage and the markings on the road. Plus we will grade the road before season,” he said

As for lighting at the bridge and poor visibility at night, he said the municipality should be approached to put lights at the crossing over the Sand River– “lighting is their responsibility.”

Then on being told that vehicles weighing more than the restricted limit of 10 tonnes are crossing the bridge regularly, thus damaging the bridge, Keyser said this matter should be taken up with the Humansdorp Traffic Department and the Department of Transport in Port Elizabeth for them to police.

He agreed to follow up questions from St Francis Chronicle with the Department in PE.

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