Ben Schoeman Freeway
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The Ben Schoeman Freeway or Ben Schoeman Highway is the main freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and consists of portions of the M1, N1, and N14. Opened in 1968, it is named after a former Minister of Transport Ben Schoeman, and is undoubtedly the busiest road in South Africa.
The Ben Schoeman Highway begins under the designation of the M1, just north of the Corlett Drive exit, where the M1 is no longer under the maintenance of the Johannesburg Roads Agency. The M1 ends at the Buccleuch interchange with the N3 and N1 highways. The highway then becomes the N1 and passes through Midrand and Centurion. Here, the N1 splits from the Ben Schoeman Highway at the Brakfontein interchange - heading to the eastern suburbs of Pretoria and to Polokwane. From the Buccleuch Interchange to the Brakfontein Interchange the Ben Schoeman Highway is a toll road, part of the Gauteng e-toll system. From Brakfontein Interchange the Ben Schoeman Highway continues northwards, directly into Pretoria, ending as it becomes Potgieter Street. Here it is under the designation of N14.
The highway was in fact opened in the reverse order, beginning in 1968 with the section from Potgieter Street to just south of Brakfontein. The second section to be opened ran from Brakfontein to just south of the then Halfway House. The final section linked up the highway to the Buccleuch Interchange and Old Pretoria Main Road.
Maintenance and upgrades
The Ben Schoeman Highway is maintained from just north of the Corlett Drive (M30) exit before Sandton until the N14/N1 split at the Brakfontein Interchange in Centurion by SANRAL. However, only the portion between the Buccleuch and Brakfontein interchanges is tolled. From Brakfontein Interchange to Potgieter Street in Pretoria, the highway is maintained by the Gauteng Provincial Government.
Two major upgrades have been done on the Ben Schoeman Highway, which was initially 2 lanes in each direction from Potgieter Street to Corlett Drive.
a)The first upgrade in the late 1980s saw the section between Buccleuch and Brakfontein Interchanges upgraded to a minimum of 3 lanes in each direction. The highway was completely rebuilt using concrete. New interchanges were added at the New Road and Samrand Avenue.
b)The second major upgrade of the highway, also from Buccleuch interchange to the Brakfontein Interchange was part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. The highway was upgraded from 3 lanes to 4 - 5 lanes in each direction, although between the Buccleuch Interchange and the M39 Alandale Interchange this has been increased to 6 lanes. Although concrete underlies some of the lanes for heavy/slow traffic, the road surface is now tar for the entire length of the Ben Schoeman Highway. To fund this second upgrade, there are two electronic tolling gantries in each direction of the highway.
The Highway has also been upgraded between Corlett Drive and the Buccleuch Interchange, although this section is not tolled, and consists of 3/4 lanes in each direction. Lighting is found along the highway from Brakfontein Interchange to Corlett Drive. The Highway now includes upgraded overhead signage as well as electronic signage.
The northern section of the highway between Brakfontein Interchange and Potgieter Street has not been upgraded, although the road has been resurfaced at times. It remains 2 lanes in each direction, does not have central lighting, and does not have any overhead signage. As a result of the Gautrain route, the diamond interchange at Trichardt Street was changed, and so north bound traffic now exits to Sunderland Road and no longer Trichardt Street.
The two main interchanges on the Ben Schoeman highway are the Buccleuch Interchange (with the N3 Eastern Bypass and N1 Western Bypass), where the Ben Schoeman Highway changes from M1 to N1 designation, and the Brakfontein Interchange (with the N1 Danie Joubert Freeway - Pretoria Eastern Bypass - and N14 to Krugersdorp), where the Highway changes from N1 to N14 designation.
The interchange between the N1 and M39 (formerly the R561), known as the Allandale Interchange, was completely redesigned as part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and is the only other free flowing interchange on the Ben Schoeman Highway.
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