So, we are finally seeing progress in the Techno Avenue improvement project.
Ground has been broken and work has commenced with noticeable developments. In the interim, a key point of concern has emerged among Technoparkers – the removal of trees around the Techno Park Avenue/Kleine Zalze entrance.
Why are the trees being removed, and is there a plan in place that will see to their renewal? We spoke to lead consulting engineer on the project, iCE Consulting’s Petri Germishuys, to get you the facts.
But first, let’s get up to speed.
Let’s get up to speed
Techno Park and its surrounds are growing. With the increase of population, our roads are becoming unmanageable. During peak hours, traffic on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, not to mention into Techno Park, moves at a snail’s pace. The unsolicited bumper-to-bumper intimacy is enough to give anyone a good dose of rage, or prompt them to act out selfishly in ways that can only lead to strife!
As a community we called for action. It took some time, but finally our calls have been answered.
Two projects are currently underway to relieve traffic congestion in and around Techno Park. The first is part of a greater provincial project to alleviate congestion on the R44. The second is a Stellenbosch Municipality initiative to develop Techno Park Avenue and improve the traffic flow in and out of our business park. Let’s take a quick look at the current deliverables:
Current improvements on the R44 around Techno Avenue
• Additional left-turn along the R44 into Techno Park from Somerset West.
• Additional lane through the Blaauwklippen intersection towards Somerset West up until the Blaauwklippen River crossing.
• Lengthening of the right-hand lane turning into Techno Park from Stellenbosch.
• A bus/taxi embayment on the R44 Blaauwklippen side of the Techno Park entrance.
• A pedestrian crossing on the R44 north of the Techno Park intersection.
Current improvements of Techno Avenue
• Broadening of Techno Park Avenue, between the entrance and the first circle (Kleine Zalze turn-off) to accommodate two lanes in and two lanes out.
• New carriage way (two lanes in and two lanes out) between the first and the second circle (Proton Road).
• The second circle to include a dedicated right-turn-lane into Techno Park via Proton Road and a dedicated left-turn-lane from Proton Road turning left into Techno Avenue.
• Two taxi stops on Techno Avenue, at the first circle going into Techno Park and at the second circle for traffic going out.
• Upgrades to the storm-water drainage system.
• Extending and widening the existing footpath to the entrance of Techno Park.
Driving into Techno Park more recently, however, you may have seen that the trees that once stood tall at the entrance have vanished. Many a Techno Parker has found this disconcerting. So, what gives?
Tree felling in Techno Avenue, what gives?
In a previous article on this website we assured you that “disruptions to the natural environment are also expected to be kept to a minimum”. We should also remind you that in the same article we reported that “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”. This information still holds true.
According to the project’s lead consulting engineer, Petri Germishuys, numerous meetings were held with environmental specialists to determine the best course of action with regard to trees and their impact on the construction zones. Altogether 74 trees needed to be removed to make space for the current Techno Avenue alterations.
Germishuys explained that it was no easy matter to determine how the removal process would proceed. Could the trees be replanted, or would they need to be cut down and replaced? Variables impacting the decision-making included:
• Age/size of trees
• Time of year
• Impact on underground services
• Future upkeep and pruning
Specialists, including representatives from the municipality’s parks division, agreed that, of the 74 trees, 55 would need to be felled. These trees were too old/large to be replanted due to the time of the year. Moreover, grappling with their deep root structures would negatively impact current underground services such as electricity, and telecommunications ducts currently servicing Techno Park. The remaining 19 trees are to be carefully dug up and replanted on the Stellenbosch Golf Course.
Germishuys assured us that they were under obligation to replace all 74 trees in areas in and around Techno Park that are still to be determined.
In the meantime, we hope this information clears up some of the questions you may have had on the subject. Construction on the road itself should start in the next week or two. As mentioned previously, there will be no work done during peak hours of traffic on the trafficked roadway. For further information and updates, please stay tuned to our Newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.