JG Afrika’s extraordinary depth of expertise in all facets of road engineering

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JG Afrika’s extraordinary depth of expertise in all facets of road engineering

The firm has a long and impressive track record in transportation with a solid history in rail and road engineering.

Today, JG Afrika’s team comprises some of South Africa’s foremost road and traffic and transportation engineers, who continue to play their part in helping the country’s roads authorities design efficient, accessible and, importantly, safer road networks.

Road-traffic signs in KwaZulu-Natal

For example, seasoned Engineering Technologist, John Falkner, is currently overseeing the visual audit, assessment, detailed design, procurement and construction monitoring for the provision of road-traffic signs (RTS) in KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of SANRAL.

The project entails assessing the condition of the existing RTS and replacing those that do not conform, in addition to providing new signage where required on both tolled and non-tolled sections of SANRAL’s road network in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This vast ‘site’ includes sections of the N2, N3, N11, R22, R61 and P720. The network spans well over 2 000 km in both directions and traverses towns as far afield as Kokstad, Newcastle, Hluhluwe and Port Edward,” Falkner says.

He adds that the different types of roadways on the SANRAL KwaZulu-Natal road network have made this an extremely interesting and challenging project.

The network includes freeways with multi-level interchanges, such as the N3 from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and the N2 from Isipingo to Umhlanga, while the R22 between Hluhluwe and Kosi Bay Border Post is a two-lane rural roadway that serves a large community and world-class tourism resorts.

The type and quantities of signage required for these different functioning roadways are, therefore, varied in the extreme.

Having completed the designs, Falkner also looks forward to the installation of the signs as part of the next phase of the project.

As the factory where they will be manufactured might be located outside of KwaZulu-Natal, delivering the signs (which when erected are much wider than the freeways) with their supporting poles to the hundreds of sites across the road network will be one of the biggest logistical complexities of this project.

Road markings in the Free State

Meanwhile, experienced civil engineer, Shalen Jangali, a JG Afrika Technical Director, is overseeing the firm’s team of maintenance engineers deployed on another SANRAL project in the Free State.

It is one of two SANRAL trials in the country that are geared at improving the quality of road markings on the national road network by introducing performance-based marking contracts.

“The client is concerned that there have been too many instances where road markings have deteriorated long before their specified 15 year lifespan. Under this new system, payment is only made to the contractor once it has been ascertained that the paint complies with minimum standards. This approach is, therefore, expected to significantly improve the quality of markings on the road network,” he says.

The line length is 500 km and 850 km on the tolled and the non-tolled roads respectively.

JG Afrika is working alongside a private company, City Markings, which is also testing a water-based paint on a seven kilometre non-performance based section of road in Welkom.

One of the biggest advantages of this road marking technology is its ability to provide improved glass bead retention to extend retro-reflectivity and evening visibility, while durable whiteness increases the conspicuity of the markings during the day.

Moreover, the water-based paint is safer to work with, easier to clean and considered a “greener” alternative to its chemical-based counterparts.

For comparison, a tried-and-tested thermoplastic paint is being applied on the performance-based sections of the project.

The project is not without its challenges, one of which is the cold winter temperatures that can reach minus eight degrees Celsius in the province.

While making working under these conditions is difficult, the cold paint also causes the pipes of the application machines to clog and careful planning and preparation is therefore required to avoid delaying the project.

A further constraint is that JG Afrika and City Markings must closely coordinate their work with other road maintenance teams operating in the province.

Road Asset Register in the Western Cape

Steve du Toit is a senior associate of JG Afrika and has a wealth of experience in road-construction management.

He is overseeing the team appointed by the Western Cape Department of Transport & Public Works to collect roads inventory data for its new sophisticated road-asset register.

The new road-asset register is a first of its kind in the country. Significantly more detailed than its predecessor, the system will provide the provincial government with an accurate measure of value of its road assets.

It is an extensive undertaking that spans about 4 000 kilometres, including all trunk, main, divisional and minor routes, in the West Coast District Municipality.

“We started with the most complex aspect of the project, namely logging and collating the numerous visible features, such as markings, guardrails, culverts and services, along the about 2 000 km of trunk and main roads. A short 23 km section of the R55, for example, has more than 600 visual features and a 12,5 km portion on the R40 has just under 300 road items that had to be verified,” he says.

Many digital pages, each with up to 15 lines of visible road items, have already been generated for the trunk roads component of the project.

At the same time the company’s teams also had to maintain an especially high level of precision, in built-up areas along the road network. when collating the many different visible features, ranging from road markings and traffic signals through to overhead transmission and telephone lines.

Information is pre-recorded on a tablet and verified on site by ticking set boxes on a software program. This data is then uploaded onto the Department of Transport & Public Works’ central system and signed off by Du Toit.

Establishing the benchmark

The team is supported by Dr John Sampson, who has participated in many large traffic and transportation projects at JG Afrika.

One of the highlights of his long career includes being a member of the Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Vereeniging (PWV) Consortium of road planning and design experts.

The Consortium undertook the future planning for all provincial arterial roads and freeways in three metropolitan areas of the Transvaal that would eventually become Gauteng under the new democratically-elected government.

Other milestones in his long career include being head of the TTT Africa teams undertaking the transportation master plans for several new “cities” that are now coming into fruition.

These include the 600 ha Modderfontein (roughly equivalent in size to Sandton); Waterfall City, a vast development from Sunninghill all the way through to Tembisa; and Steyn City, in which JG Afrika became involved right in the early phases when this large urban node was only an idea mooted by Douw Steyn.

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