A bypass around the village – especially for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) – has been discussed on and off for more than 20 years. Lately, it has emerged from discussions between stakeholders that the provincial government has become more favourably disposed towards the idea.
Planning for the bypass centres on the Robertsvlei Road. This means that HGVs, and other road users that so choose, will be diverted off the R45 onto the Robertsvlei Road and re-join traffic at the Huguenot Monument intersection. This proposal would involve paving the Robertsvlei Road, construction of a new dual lane bridge over the Franschhoek River and various other road improvements.
Criticism of this proposal has included that it will disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the Robertsvlei Valley and fails to address traffic safety concerns caused by HGVs on the Franschhoek Pass.
In a new development the Tatler has learned that a potential second phase is being explored. This involves using the maintenance tunnel that runs parallel to the water tunnel from the Theewaterskloof Dam to the upper reaches of the Berg River catchment for road traffic.
The little known maintenance tunnel is sufficiently large to accommodate both cars and SUVs. Its width however only allows for one lane, meaning that the direction of traffic flow would have to be switched periodically. The surface of the maintenance tunnel is currently gravel and is only used by a battery-driven buggy belonging to the Department of Water and Sanitation that is used to transport engineers on inspection trips.
Technical challenges that would have to be overcome to implement this scheme include providing sufficient ventilation to deal with exhaust fumes and the location of access roads in the sensitive natural areas at both ends of the tunnel.
Enlarging the tunnel to accommodate HGVs doesn’t currently appear to be on the agenda.