The new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Alexandra and Sandton across the M1 highway will promote the growth of a spatially integrated Johannesburg and encourage a move towards non-motorised forms of transport.
The bridge with its striking, modern design is the centrepiece of a broader initiative to create more safe and convenient opportunities for walking and cycling in Alex. In total, more than 30km of new pavement and dedicated cycle lanes are being constructed. These will be supported by upgrades to the public environment, street furniture, better lighting and traffic calming measures in the adjacent streets.
Councillor Christine Walters, the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport, says the “Great Walk” bridge fits in perfectly with the City’s Corridors of Freedom master plan, intended to undo apartheid spatial planning and improve communities’ access to economic and job opportunities.
It also promotes the “complete street” concept – a modern global trend in urban design – where the road network and transport systems are regarded as social infrastructure that serves the entire community, rather than, predominantly, the private transport user.
A decisive shift towards public transport will also contribute to the City’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.
“Great Walk” refers to the fact that an average of 10 000 pedestrians walk or cycle the roughly 5km distance between Alex and Sandton on a daily basis. The vast majority of them travel along Rautenbach Avenue and Roosevelt Streets in Alex. They then cross the M1 – often under dangerous conditions – at the Grayston interchange.
When completed in 2016 residents will be able to access the bridge at No 3 Square in Alexandra and walk or cycle across the highway to Linden Street in Sandton. This will not only provide pedestrians and cyclists with safe and conducive infrastructure but also improve traffic flows on Grayston Avenue.
MMC Walters says the envisaged new bridge is a good example of how the City’s long term transport and spatial development plans fit together. It forms part of Phase 1C of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit programme, which serves the north-east quadrant of the City linking the CBD with Alexandra, Sandton, Randburg, Greenstone, Ivory Park, Rabie Ridge and Midrand.
It will also offer improved linkages to the Gautrain and connect seamlessly with the newly expanded Pan African shopping centre on Watt Street. The new taxi rank development provided by the JDA along Watt Street, will have a ‘look-and-feel design’ similar to that of a BRT station.
“Our objective is to create better connections between different modes of public transport – buses, trains and taxis – and to vigorously promote the concepts of walking and cycling through the provision of safe and accommodating infrastructure for all Joburgers,” says MMC Walters.