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South African Highways






 

  The N1 is a South African National Route, running from Cape Town to Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe. It is also the main road link between Johannesburg and Cape Town, and forms the first section of the famed Cape to Cairo Road.

  Prior to 1970, the N1 used to run from Beit Bridge to Colesburg, and then follow the alignment of the present N9 to George. Ironically, the section from Cape Town to Colesburg used to be the N9.

   
   

    The N1 begins in central Cape Town at the northern end of Buitengracht Street outside the entrance to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The first section of the N1 is shared with the beginning of the N2; it is a four-lane elevated freeway that runs along a strip of land between the city centre and the Port of Cape Town.
  On the eastern edge of the city centre the two roads split, and the N1 turns east as Table Bay Boulevard, passing the Ysterplaat Air Force Base and Century City before the N7 intersects it on its own way out of the city towards Namibia. Major improvements have been made to the Koeberg Interchange, where the N1 meets the M5, one of the main arterial routes linking Milnerton with the Southern Suburbs.
    The N1 then heads through the suburbs of Goodwood and Bellville, where the R300 terminates at it, before heading towards Paarl. At Paarl, the freeway ends, and the N1 is tolled as it passes through the Huguenot Tunnel running underneath the Du Toitskloof Mountains; the tunnel was opened in the late 1980s to replace the old Du Toitskloof Pass running over the mountain. 

  After emerging from the tunnel, the N1 winds through the Molenaar River Valley (which is a short dual carriageway section) before emerging from the valley and heading towards Worcester.

 

  Currently only the section of the N1 passing through the Huguenot Tunnel is tolled, although there are plans to toll the N1 from the junction with the R300, roughly to De Doorns.

 
 

   This would allow for upgrading of the N1, most especially the opening and construction of the Northern Bore of the Huguenot Tunnel so that two lanes of traffic could pass in each direction through the tunnel, and the building of grade separated junctions along the N1 through Worcester. Although the town is bypassed, there are a number of traffic lights on the N1 through Worcester.

    From the top of the pass, the N1 passes Touws River and Matjiesfontein before passing through Laingsburg, then heads towards Beaufort West.
 

  The 200 km section between Laingsburg and Beaufort West is notorious for claiming many lives in fatigue-related accidents; also, the N1 begins to turn towards the north-east along this stretch of road.
  Just before Beaufort West, the N12 from George meets the N1; the N12 shares the N1 route through Beaufort West and for the next 80 km before splitting at Three Sisters. The N12 later meets the N1 again in Johannesburg, making the N12 an alternative route to the N1, passing through Kimberley instead of Bloemfontein.
  Although parts of the N12 between Warrenton and Klerksdorp are in poor condition (although in process of being upgraded), the N1 from Bloemfontein onwards is tolled while the N12 is toll-free. Whereas the N12 also passes through most of the towns en route to Johannesburg, the N1 bypasses every town between Beaufort West and Johannesburg.

  The N1 briefly crosses into the Northern Cape at Three Sisters for a few kilometres before crossing back into the Western Cape, and remains in the Western Cape until just after its intersection with the R63, where re-enters the Northern Cape.


 

  The N1 has a short section in the Northern Cape; after it passes into this province, it passes through the town of Richmond before intersecting with the N10 at Hanover. The N1 then continues towards Colesberg, where the N9 terminates where it meets the N1. After Colesberg, the N1 crosses the Orange River and enters the Free State.

   After the Orange River crossing, the N1 makes a direct line for Bloemfontein, heading in a more northerly direction.
 

   The N1 from Colesburg to Bloemfontein is highly significant because it was the first single-carriageway freeway built in South Africa. The bridges with the interchanges at Edenburg and Trompsburg show the ambitious plans for this road as a dual-carriage freeway.
  Just before reaching Bloemfontein, the N6 from East London terminates where it meets the N1. This intersection marks the beginning of the Bloemfontein Western Bypass, which is the first freeway section on the route since Paarl. The N8 WEST from Kimberley intersects with the N1 bypass, joining it for 3 km, before heading EAST through the central parts of Bloemfontein and then to Maseru in Lesotho,
  The N1 is signed as a toll road from the N6 interchange until its end at Beit Bridge. The N1 becomes a single carriageway freeway a few kilometres north of Bloemfontein after passing the R30 to Brandfort; however, construction work is in progress to extend the freeway for another 20 km by building a second carriageway.
  Once the freeway ends, the road will be a single carriageway but with two lanes in each direction until 5 km before the toll plaza at Verkeerdevlei, halfway between Bloemfontein and Winburg. Initial plans were for the N1 from Winburg to Bloemfontein to be a dual-carriageway freeway. At Winburg, the N5 splits from the N1, which bypasses the north of Lesotho before its own termination at the N3 in Harrismith.

  Many motorists from Cape Town heading for Durban travel the N1 to Winburg, and then N5 to Harrismith as an alternative to reach Durban. This is due to the much better quality of this route compared with the N2, especially between Port Shepstone and Grahamstown.
  The N1 continues north and passes through Ventersburg before reaching Kroonstad. There the R34 joins the N1 from Welkom. There is a short dual carriageway freeway bypass of Kroonstad, before the N1 heads towards the Vaal River and Gauteng. Just before passing into Gauteng at the Vaal River, the N1 becomes a dual-carriageway freeway and features another toll plaza.


 

  After crossing the Vaal River, the N1 continues towards Johannesburg, bypassing Vanderbijlpark and featuring another toll plaza at Grasmere. At the southern outskirts of Johannesburg, the N12 once again meets the N1, and shares its route for a few kilometers before splitting off to become the Southern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road. From just north of the Vaal River the N1 changes from being a tarred road to a concrete road, until just after the N12.
   The N1 then becomes the Western Bypass portion of the same ring road, passing through through Johannesburg's western suburbs before meeting the N3 (the Eastern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road, later going to Durban) and Johannesburg's own M1 freeway at the Buccleuch Interchange.
  The N1 then heads towards Pretoria along the Ben Schoeman Highway; this section carries 300,000 vehicles per day and is purported to be the busiest stretch of road in South Africa. At Centurion, the N1 meets the N14 and leaves the Ben Schoeman Highway (which then becomes part of the N14) to become the Pretoria Eastern Bypass, intersecting with the R21 during this time.
  The N4 then joins the N1 from Witbank and follows the N1 a short distance before splitting to the west towards Rustenburg. From the interchange with the N4, the N1 is tolled for the remainder of its length, with various toll plazas located along it. The N1 then heads to the north and passes into Limpopo province.

    The N1 then passes near Bela Bela (previously Warmbaths) and Modimolle (previously Nylstroom).
 

   At the Modimolle exit, the freeway ends; the section of freeway between the Vaal River and Modimolle is the longest freeway in South Africa by route number at approximately 265 km (although there are two changes in the alignment of freeway in Gauteng, at Buccleuch and Brakfontein Interchanges.
  South Africa's longest continuous freeway is the N3 between Durban and Ladysmith, which is approximately 20 km shorter. The N1 then heads past Mokopane (previously Potgietersrus), where the N11 intersects it (leaving the N18 as the only national road that does not intersect with the N1), before heading to Polokwane (previously Pietersburg). The Eastern Bypass around Polokwane has recently been opened, although it is not grade separated.
 After Polokwane, the N1 heads north, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn before passing Louis Trichardt. The N1 then winds through the Soutpansberg Mountains (containing two short tunnels) before heading to Musina. Plans are underway for a bypass around Musina. The route then makes a 16 km line for the Beit Bridge border crossing with Zimbabwe on the Limpopo River.
  After crossing into Zimbabwe, the route is no longer known as the N1. It passes through the border town of Beit Bridge on the Zimbabwean side before splitting into two routes: the A6 to Bulawayo and the A4 to Harare.


 

  In numerous places in South Africa, specifically near major cities, the N1 route was built to freeway standards. The original routes usually carry the designation of R101 and are often alternative routes to the newer, sometimes tolled, highways. An example is the R101 over Du Toitskloof Pass where the new N1 highway bypasses the pass altogether by use of the Huguenot Tunnel.

 There are exceptions to the usual R101 alternative route designation:

  • The old N1 route from Colesburg to Bloemfontein is designated R717 until Redderburg when it is designated N6
  • The old N1 route through Bloemfontein is designated as the M30.
  •  
  • Between Kroonstad and Parys, the old route is designated firstly as the R721 from Kroonstad to Vredefort and then as the R59 through Parys to the interchange with the N1 at the Vaal Toll Plaza, approximately 10 km south of the Vaal River.

  • Between the Vaal River and Johannesburg, several alternative routes exist, the official alternative route being via the Golden Highway (R553). The old N1 route however followed the designation of the R42 to Vereeniging, and then the R82 leading to Johannesburg's M1 freeway.
  The M1 provides the alternative route through Johannesburg; near the Buccleuch Interchange (the point where the N1, M1 and N3 converge), the R101 then resumes, providing the alternative route through to Polokwane.
    The N3 is a National Route  in South Africa, connecting Johannesburg and Durban, respectively South Africa's largest and third-largest cities.

 

  Johannesburg is the financial and commercial heartland of South Africa, while Durban is South Africa's key port and one of the busiest ports in the Southern Hemisphere and is also a holiday destination. Durban is the port through which Johannesburg imports and exports most of its goods. As a result, the N3 is a very busy highway and has a high volume of traffic.

 

 The N3 is divided into 12 sections, starting with section 1 in Durban and ending with section 12 in Johannesburg. Between the two cities, the route passes the following towns and cities: Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, Ladysmith, Harrismith, Heidelberg and Germiston.

   It no longer passes through any of these towns, as bypasses have been built around all of them. The last bypass that was built was around the town of Warden.

 

 The N3 begins in the Durban Central Business District at Pine Street and Commercial Road as a dual-carriageway freeway and heads west, passing through Berea and Mayville before intersecting with the N2 at the EB Cloete Interchange. It then heads through Westville before bypassing the south of Pinetown. The route is then tolled at Mariannhill as it leaves the urban area, and then heads towards Cato Ridge. From Cato Ridge, the route passes Camperdown before turning towards the northwest and heading towards Pietermaritzburg, the provincial capital.

 

 After bypassing Pietermaritzburg on the east and north, the N3 heads up a steep incline known as Town Hill before passing near Hilton and Howick; a road to the Southern Drakensberg (the R619) leaves the N3 at Howick. The route then becomes rather pictureque as it heads through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, passing through Mooi River (where another toll is located) before heading to Estcourt. Just past Estcourt, access to the Central and Northern Drakensberg via the R74 is provided, before the N3 heads in the direction of Ladysmith. The N3 passes Ladysmith to the west, with the N11 providing access to Ladysmith itself.

 

 A few kilometers after the N11 interchange, the N3 is tolled once again; the dual-carriageway freeway also ending at this point. From here, the N3 ascends the South African plateau via Van Reenen's Pass; at the top of the pass, the N3 crosses into the Free State.


 

 After crossing into the Free State, the N3 heads to Harrismith, where the N5 leaves it (providing a route to Bloemfontein and Cape Town via the N1). The N3 then heads to the north, and passes the town of Warden.  

   At Warden, the N3 becomes a single-carriageway freeway and heads towards Villiers, where a toll is located. Immediately after Villers, the N3 crosses the Vaal River and enters Mpumalanga; the N3 also becomes a dual-carriageway freeway at this point.
 

 The N3 then heads through the south-western tip of Mpumalanga in the direction of Heidelberg. Just before reaching Heidelberg, the N3 is tolled; this also marks the point where the N3 crosses into Gauteng. The N3 then bypasses Heidelberg before heading towards Johannesburg.

 On approaching Johannesburg, the N3 passes the townships of Katlehong and Vosloorus before reaching Alberton; here, it intersects with the N17. Almost immediately afterwards, the N12 (the Southern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road) merges with the N3, with the N3 then becoming the Eastern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road.

 The N3 then heads through Germiston (where the M2 provides access to the Johannesburg Central Business District) before heading to Bedfordview, where the N12 leaves the N3 at the Gilooly's Interchange and provides access to the East Rand. From here, the N3 passes Edenvale and Alexandra before terminating at the Buccleuch Interchange just south of Midrand and north of Sandton, which is the point at which the N3, N1 and M1 converge.


   Where the N3 has been realigned, the old alignment has been designated R103. The R103 exists in three sections: between Durban and Ladysmith, between Warden and Villiers, and between Heidelberg and Johannesburg. The only exception is within Durban itself, where most of the old N3 alignment is designated as the M13 instead of having the usual R103 designation; the R103 diverges from the M13 in the suburb of Winston Park.

 The R103 is typically used to avoid the toll plazas on the N3, with one notable exception being the Tugela East Toll Plaza located on the R103 itself where the R103 and N3 meet north of Ladysmith.

 Prior to the redesignation of the National Route numbers in 1971, the N3 moved east at Heidelberg and passed through the towns of Standerton, Volksrust and Newcastle via Laign's Neck Pass, before joining the present alignment at Ladysmith. This route now designated R23 between Heidelberg and Volksrust and N11 thereafter remains an alternative to the N3.

 

 Following the opening of the motorway section in December 2001 between Heidelberg and Villiers, the N3 now has at least two lanes in each direction for its entire length between the two cities.

 The section between Johannesburg and Villiers is dual carriageway motorway. Between Villiers and Warden the road in single carriageway motorway with two lanes in each direction.

 From Warden to Keeversfontein (Tugela Toll Plaza) the road is no longer motorway but retains two lanes in each direction. Thereafter, the route to Durban is dual carriageway motorway.

  This last section is the second longest motorway by route number, but the longest motorway following one alignment in South Africa.

    There are plans to re-route one section of the N3 between Keeversfontein (Tugela Toll Plaza) near Ladysmith, and the start of the tolled section near Warden, probably meeting the present alignment just south of Warden.
 This would involve the diversion of the road over De Beer's Pass, as opposed to Van Reenen's Pass. Not only would it reduce the route distance by 14 kilometres, but would have a lower gradient. Proponents of the new road argue that the existing Van Reenen's Pass is too steep for heavy trucks and exceeds the maximum gradient of 1:7 for an officially declared national road. This has caused a huge outcry among residents of Harrismith and Van Reenen, who rely on passing traffic to sustain businesses such as restaurants, petrol stations, and holiday rest places.

  The N3 Toll Concession has stated that the De Beer's bypass will be required when daily traffic volumes reach 13,900 vehicles - the current traffic volume at Van Reenen is 11,000 vehicles, and based on projected increases in traffic volumes, the bypass will need to be operational by the end of 2014, with construction commencing in the second half of 2011
   
 

 Most of the road is only usable upon the payment of toll. There are toll plazas at Marianhill, Mooiriver, Tugela, Villiers and Heidelberg. As mentioned above, most of the toll plazas can be avoided by using the R103.

A sixth toll plaza is likely to be constructed south of Warden when the De Beer's bypass (mentioned above) is built.

  The northern most part of the N3, from Black Reef Road (Old Barn Interchange) to Buccleuch Interchange is being upgraded as part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Scheme. Once completed, this section of the freeway will also be tolled.





 

 








 
 

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