IF THE proposal to build the Brodie road couplet turns out to be unacceptable to most stakeholders, the City will have to look at alternatives, such as running the MyCiTi bus route along Main Road.
That’s according to Mayco member for transport Brett Herron, who last week met with WRRA chairperson Kristina Davidson and WRRA vice chairperson Karen Gird at his office in the Civic Centre. The meeting finally occurred many months after the WRRA has been asking for face-to-face talks with Council about the proposed road.
“Although we didn’t make much progress, it was a breakthrough meeting because it was the first time anyone from the council agreed to engage with us directly about the road,” Davidson said afterwards. “We also now have a clearer idea what the City wants to do.”
These were the main points of discussion.
1 South Road
The City intends going ahead with the South Road development, Herron said. It is a proclaimed road reserve and will enable MyCiTi users to go further south, thereby covering a broader area. An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not needed under the new National Environment Management Act because the requirements are less strict and the proposed road is an urban road.
South Road is the only viable route for crossing the railway line, he said. The alternatives (Broad Road/Rosmead Avenue and Wetton Road) were considered but found not to be viable, as the city would have to expropriate properties and the road space is not wide enough.
The WRRA comments:
- The WRRA doesn’t understand why buses need to cross over the railway line or why South Road is needed to get people further south, as Wittebome Station could fulfil that requirement within the confines of an integrated public transport system.
- Given the impact that South Road will have on well-functioning, well-established communities, the WRRA is surprised to learn that no EIA is needed.
- The WRRA would like to see the studies that show that the alternative routes are not valid, especially as properties along South Road also still need to be expropriated.
- It seems to the WRRA that the bus rapid transit (BRT) project is being developed through the mobility lens rather than as part of a broader urban design/plan, especially as the Lansdowne-Wetton Corridor (which is the main development corridor in all statutory documents) has somehow become Ottery Road/South Road.
2 Brodie Road couplet
The couplet in Wynberg is not confirmed and will still need to go through a process that includes public participation. If the Brodie Road couplet is found to be unacceptable to the public and other stakeholders, then an alternative will have to be considered for buses from South Road, e.g. going along Main Road, Herron suggested.
There are no plans to build the Constantia bypass, which is shown as a proposal on the maps from the tender document. According to Herron, the provincial government will not deproclaim other existing road schemes without an alternative.
The need for the couplet is based on studies that say Main Road is congested, Herron said. The couplet would take pressure off Main Road and would also provide a more rapid route for the MyCiTi bus.
The WRRA comments:
- The WRRA questions the validity of the urban studies on which the plans are based, as these studies date from the early 2000s, do not reflect the current-day reality and do not take into account the requirements of BRT. The point about province requiring an alternative in order to deproclaim old schemes is also questionable, as other old road schemes have been deproclaimed without alternatives in place.
- Congestion along Main Road is no worse than other parts of Main Road (e.g. Claremont or Rondebosch) and could be resolved through better traffic management.
- School traffic (22 schools make use of Wynberg Library) also contributes to the congestion at certain times of the day and would not be resolved by the couplet.
3 Public participation
Once the design of the proposed couplet is ready for public participation, the WRRA and other civic associations will be advised by the Subcouncil and/or their ward councillor. Herron noted that public participation means that the public will have their say and is not the same as getting permission from the public.
The WRRA comments:
- This understanding of public participation implies that in theory the road could be built even if the public is dead set against it.
The city has not yet decided whether to develop the BRT infrastructure and services in stages, or to build all the infrastructure and then start the services, Herron said. It is expected to start with the BRT infrastructure in Wynberg and Claremont, as this would allow MyCiTi services to be rolled out to some of the communities.
Herron has not yet responded to an invitation by the WRRA to visit Wynberg and walk or drive the route to see first-hand what the impact of the proposed route on the suburb will be.