Ramp opens tourism link

The R300/Bottelary Road interchange viewed from the air.

Kuils River and Brackenfell councillor Marian Nieuwoudt was walking on air after the R60 million R300/Bottelary interchange was opened on Thursday March 22.

“Now I can retire,” she joked.

At the opening, mayor Patricia de Lille said the interchange would not only help to ease congestion in Kuils River – one of the top-three most traffic-choked areas in the city – it would also boost tourism.

“I thought this would happen many years from now, and then suddenly it’s here. It’s beautiful,” Ms Nieuwoudt said, adding that she suspected it would become one of the busiest off-ramps.

She is not the only one who is pleased with how fast the off-ramp was built. The project’s four partners all expressed surprise that the project had been completed only a year after the sod-turning.

“It was just yesterday, we were putting the spade in the ground,” Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said.

The speed of the off-ramp’s construction was attributed to the partnership between the three spheres of government and the private sector.

Ms Nieuwoudt thanked the VDMV Property Group for coming on board as the first sponsor when the project was in its infancy.

She also thanked civil engineer Eric Foster for drawing up the plans for the ramp “on faith” before any funding had been committed to the project.

“He was only paid once the funding was made available,” Ms Nieuwoudt said.

The R60 million project was funded by the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works (R29 million), the City (R31 million) and Shoprite Checkers and VDMV who each sponsored R5 million. The SA National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) bought the land.

Ms Niewoudt said the partnership was a “benchmark for how we should work in future”. She said the off-ramp was part of the sub-council’s four-year-old ward plan to boost housing, entrepreneurism and tourism in the area.

“The plan going forward is taking the tourism sector into Bottelary Road,” she said.She said the area had a lot to offer tourists, such as the golf course, the wine farms and the natural bio-diversity.

“The area, near the huge electricity pylons, opposite Soneike Mall, that area is special because of all the rare species there,” she said.

There were also plans to develop the banks of the Kuils River, creating cycling and hiking paths.

“The cornerstones are already there,” Ms Nieuwoudt said, and invited people to contact her with ideas that could link up with the project. “We want local people to benefit from this,” she said.