Sand River Bridge to be tarred before end of November (updated 28 October 2011)

By Bev Mortimer: Tarring of the Sand River bridge will be done before the end of November this year. That is the word from Marius Keyser, chief engineer at the provincial Department of Roads, this morning.

The temporary, gravel Sand River Bridge - Photo taken by Bev Mortimer in August 2011.

This means that the hordes of visitors and holiday makers to the coastal town of St Francis Bay and to Cape St Francis village will have a safer bridge to cross. Visitors are expected here from the end of November (the start of school and varsity holidays).

However, even when the bridge is tarred next month it will still be a temporary bridge. Plans are afoot to start building a proper bridge across the temperamental Sand River next year. This was also confirmed by Keyser this morning. But before this happens an extensive EIA process has to be completed and this could take months.

Meanwhile the St Francis Bay Residents’ Association at a meeting on 28 October 2011 is going to ask the consulting engineers for the provincial Roads Department (responsible for builidng a new bridge over the Sand Riover) to rebuild the original culvert as a temporary measure  before the school holidays.  Nigel Aitken, who heads up the Association’s portfolio of roads and infrastructure, was due to meet with the engineers on 28 October 2011.

Speaking to St Francis Chronicle Keyser also said that from this week (starting 24 October 2011) improved signage will be placed leading up to the Sand River Bridge and at the bridge itself.

This is also to make the bridge much safer to cross for motorists following at least six accidents at the bridge. In two of these accidents the luxurious cars were written off completely when they ploughed into the river and the drivers miraculously escaped serious injury. One vehicle was worth around R1-million.

These accidents led residents to express fears that with all the drinking and driving at Christmas and New Year, more serious accidents could ensue.

According to Nigel Aitken, who heads up a roads and infrastructure portfolio with the St Francis Bay Residents Association,  increased traffic during the holiday season could put pedestrians’ lives at risk when they cross the bridge. Consequently another Roads Department plan is to have a footbridge and pedestrian crossing made before season, probably over the old Sand River bridge.

The Sand River bridge was washed away twice in two weeks in July this year following heavy rains and floods from storm waters. The current bridge is the second temporary bridge built in July this year..

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