‘Death trap’ on R40 to be investigated

MSHOLOZI – Consultants have been appointed to conduct a study of safety, three months after the installation of the three-way stop on the R40.
The study was, according to various sources, supposed to have been done prior to the installation to prevent it from becoming the death trap that it currently is. “The consultants would now advise on the best possible way to make the intersection conducive to all road users,” said the Department of Public Works, Roads and Safety spokesman, Mpho Gabashane.

The spate of accident begs the question if a problem was solved, or caused?

The method behind the madness has, since the installation, yet to be confirmed.
Lowvelder consulted two experts to try and determine the cause, and approached both the City of Mbombela, as well as the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport for an explanation, but no concrete evidence has been provided that the correct procedures were followed.
Gabashane said this is a medium- to long-term solution following constant build-ups of both business and human settlements, which “weren’t there when the R40 was designed”.

Lowvelder spoke to two experienced consultants, both of whom wished to stay anonymous due to professional reasons, and agreed that a massive lack of planning is evident.

“The road is indeed a nightmare. Every motorist has to stop at the intersection, irrespective of traffic coming from Msholozi,” one of the consultants said.
The situation begs the question: Was a proper traffic study done to determine the necessity of the intersection? Was a traffic count done to determine the ratio of traffic on the R40 to traffic from Msholozi? He estimated that for every one vehicle that exits or enters Msholozi, between 10 and 14 are using the R40 at any given time, which does not justify the installation.
Another consultant is of the opinion that a stop sign can never be used as an effective measure to control traffic on a busy road like the R40.
He agreed that a study determining the average speed of the vehicles, the traffic volume, and the flow of traffic had to be done. To date, neither the department nor the City, could provide any proof of this being done. “The fact that it was installed on an uphill begs the question if any homework was done at all,” he said, and asked if this solved a problem or caused more. “A vehicle that has to cross more than two lanes, hoping that the speeding cars travelling to or from Mbombela stop, is evident that proper planning was not done.”
Lowvelder is also yet to see proof of promulgation two weeks ahead of the installation, which would give the community the opportunity to comment. The latter consultant said 12-hour shifts were supposed to be done by the traffic department to determine the average speed of the vehicles. For a week after the installation, traffic officers were supposed to be present, for eight hours per day for a week, to warn motorists of the new stop street. Instead, rain caused the process to come to a halt, leaving some lanes open, and some closed, with nothing but confused motorists in sight.

He proposed that traffic exiting Msholozi should exit via Brondal and reach the R40 through the R40/Rocky Drift interchange or use the R537.

He suggested closing the centre island on the road’s new intersection, to prevent traffic coming from White River entering Msholozi, as well as exiting Msholozi towards Mbombela, and relay the traffic to Brondal/Rocky Drift or the R537.
To this, the department said: “The department wishes to acknowledge your input regarding the traffic situation at the new stop sign on the R40, Msholozi turn-off, near White River. As a matter of principle, we welcome and embrace all suggestions aimed at improving road safety. The department would like to urge all road users to be vigilant on the road and abide by the rules all the time.”

The City’s spokesman, Joseph Ngala, never responded.

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Stefan de Villiers

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