Good news, Techno Parkers: road improvements are on the way. And by “on the way” we don’t mean someone thinks it will be a good idea and then they’ll have a meeting about it and then maybe a few years down the line somebody else in an office somewhere will sign a form authorising a feasibility study, and then maybe ten years later, if we’re lucky, things might start to improve – we mean the sod is being turned in the coming weeks for some prominent and very real upgrades to Techno Avenue and the R44 around the entrance to Techno Park.
Reports about the proposed upgrades have intermittently found their way onto the Techno Park website (see here, here and here), and have indeed been on the table since as far back as 2013, but now they are finally here. The coming improvements to Techno Avenue coincide with the Western Cape Provincial Authority’s long-simmering plans to upgrade the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. Taken together they promise a much-needed alleviation of the dire traffic situation in Techno Park.
Along the R44, at the southern entrance to Techno Park (from Somerset West), an additional lane for turning off will be constructed (see the light green areas on the accompanying plan). A bus embayment – or taxi stop – will be added on the Blaauwklippen side of the road, across from the Techno Park entrance, and pedestrians who need to cross the R44 to get into Techno Park will be able to do so thanks to a pedestrian crossing designed to minimize blockage. Flow in general will be improved by upgrades to the traffic light phasing that will better accommodate existing traffic conditions.
Inside Techno Park the improvements will be even more pronounced. Techno Avenue will be broadened between the entrance and the first circle (Kleine Zalze turn-off), and an entire new carriage way will be constructed between the first and the second circle (Quantum Street). The crux of the matter is that there will be two lanes going in each direction, all the way from the R44 turn-off to the second circle.
The second circle itself – a source of perpetual frustration during peak traffic hours – will be enlarged to include a lane dedicated for turning into Techno Avenue. This will prevent the blockage caused by cars waiting their turn to cross the circle from both ways, and promises a fundamental alleviation of the traffic situation.
But wait, there’s more. In addition to the road upgrades, the stormwater drainage system – a cause for concern each rainy season when water dams up near the Techno Park entrance – will be overhauled to better accommodate flow. The improved system will even be able to tolerate a so-called “50-year flood” event through the implementation of an overland overflow system.
In addition to these upgrades, the existing footpath will be extended all the way to the R44 turn-off, and will be widened to three metres to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists.
Minor inconvenience for major benefit
As during any major construction project, there is bound to be some inconvenience for commuters from time to time, but it is expected that the upgrades will not cause major disruptions between now and completion, which is envisioned for the end of next year. Contractors require special permission to close any of the existing lanes during peak traffic hours – during the normal course of operations, they are not allowed to do so. At worst, Techno Parkers may have to put up with a stop-and-go situation for brief periods, but these should be limited to a minimum.
Disruptions to the natural environment are also expected to be kept to a minimum. The contractors are under obligation to replant any trees they need to remove during the construction of additional lanes, either near the previous stand, or elsewhere in Techno Park.
For the duration of the project, which is expected to run from now to the end of 2019, Techno Parkers are urged to exercise patience if they do find their daily routines somewhat disrupted. The future benefits of these road improvements far outweigh any unease they might cause in the short term. Likewise, if it feels like progress is stalling, please keep in mind that there are often complex systems that need to be recalibrated along with the physical upgrades, including fibre lines, electricity cables, and stormwater channels.
In the meantime, however, please feel free to crack open a bottle of your finest bubbly to celebrate, along with the rest of Techno Park, that the long-vaunted road upgrades have finally arrived.