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WSP Africa completes toughest-ever bus scheme

10 Oct 11 WSP Africa has completed what it describes as its toughest ever bus rapid transport project.

It has been overseeing the design and construction services for the recently completed bus rapid transit (BRT) project Johannesburg, which has been in progress since January 2008. WSP worked in association with project manager KYD Consulting Engineers.

WSP technical director Kevin van Blerk says that this was one of the toughest BRT projects the company has worked on, due to the many challenges it presented. One of these was the relocation of underground services.  “We had to relocate everything outside of the bus lane to allow space for the construction of the bus route,” he said. “ In many instances the exact position and size of the services were uncertain.   When we excavated some areas, we found that the pipes had corroded and were near collapse. We had to replace the pipes, which took time and added costs.” Further, provision had to be made for the ageing water and sewer mains.

Land acquisitions were another major challenge.  Access to properties had to be considered, residents close to the construction area were not happy and land with historical significance had to be considered, as was the case with the removal of trees. Considerable time was invested in negotiations with business owners and private property owners in the area to convince them to buy into the BRT concept and to sell their properties as required.  The remodelling of the Johannesburg Country Club took the longest to resolve.

 Erratic weather conditions in Johannesburg also delayed the progress of construction.

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The project comprises 11 bus stations at about 750m intervals for commuters and each bus station has colour-coded street lighting and an ergonomically designed building for ticketing.

The work included the design and construction of bus lanes, road widening, the relocation of water, sewer, gas and electrical services, modifications to stormwater drains, road reconstruction and surfacing, the construction of retaining walls, property acquisitions, traffic accommodation and management and signalised intersection upgrades.

The new road cross section for the BRT accommodates two dedicated bus lanes, one in each direction, located in the middle of the existing road and two mixed-traffic lanes in each direction. The traffic signalisation was upgraded at each major road intersection to allow for the normal traffic and the complementary buses to enter the BRT network. Rehabilitation of the existing road pavement was needed to accommodate the heavier buses.

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