The Huguenot Tunnel is a toll tunnel near Cape Town. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
The Huguenot Tunnel is a toll tunnel near Cape Town. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Huguenot Tunnel’s night-time closure expected to last until September

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jun 14, 2021

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Cape Town – The next phase of upgrades to the Huguenot Tunnel will necessitate the night-time closure of the tunnel from today.

South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) Western Region manager Randall Cable said although the Huguenot Tunnel would be open during the day, motorists were urged to take note of night-time closures, which will start from 10pm.

“Statistics show that only 10% of the daily traffic passing through the tunnel do so at night-time. In terms of the least disruptive time, the tunnel would thus be closed to traffic, from 10pm to 6am, Monday to Thursday.

“This means that the tunnel will still be open during the daytime Monday to Thursday and fully open 24 hours a day from Friday to Sunday for all road users,” said Cable.

This year, the tunnel had been in service for 33 years, with an impeccable safety record and a remarkable capacity load of well over 110 million vehicles.

The electrical and mechanical systems were, however, near the end of their life-spans and needed to be replaced to ensure compliance with international safety standards.

Much of the required maintenance work has been completed under live traffic conditions, to ensure minimal inconvenience to road users. These include:

  • 11Kv line replacement between the tunnel and the main control centre (MCC);
  • The installation of back-up generators at the MCC and portal buildings;
  • The replacement of most of the water main;
  • The MCC building has been upgraded;
  • Variable message signs and all electronic signage in the tunnel have been replaced; and
  • The MCC’s fire detection and suppression system has been replaced.

Sanral tunnel project manager Mike Vinello-Lippert said: “Some of the work, like the upgrade of the tunnel fire detection system, replacement of the tunnel strip and adaption lighting and the asphalt overlay of the Eastern Approach Road (Worcester side) cannot be done under live traffic conditions and will therefore be done at night-time during the planned closures. We anticipate that this should all be completed by September 30, 2021.”

Sanral has been engaging stakeholders from local and provincial government, the road freight industry, the agricultural sector, the South African National Taxi Council and the local business community on how the closures will impact their businesses, so that they are able to make adjustments to their travel times or use the various alternative routes.

The least amount of inconvenience may be caused by adjusting travel times to arrive at the tunnel before or after closure times.

Where this is unavoidable, alternative routes include Paarl – Du Toitskloof Pass – Worcester (±62km), Paarl – Gouda – Tulbagh – Worcester (±121km) or Wellington – Tulbagh – Ceres (± 74km).

Depending on origin and destination, the N2 Grabouw to Villiersdorp (41km) is also an option.

“Where unforeseen changes to the schedule are necessitated, we will communicate these as soon as possible, to ensure that road users are fully informed of the work being carried out and the effects this may have on traffic flow,” said Cable.

“Sanral apologises for the inconvenience these upgrades may cause. The safety of every road user passing through the Huguenot Tunnel is, however, our prime objective,” said Cable.

Real-time and accurate Huguenot Tunnel closure information will be made available on www.i-traffic.co.za and the Sanral website www.nra.co.za, to allow road users to plan their journeys accordingly.

Cape Argus

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