N1 Western Bypass (South Africa)

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The N1 Western Bypass.

The Western Bypass is a section of the N1 and the Johannesburg Ring Road located in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The freeway was inially opened in 1975 as a route to avoid the city centre of Johannesburg and access for the western areas of the Witwatersrand. From the south, the Western Bypass begins at the Diepkloof Interchange in Soweto, where it splits from the N12 freeway. The Western Bypass ends at the Buccleuch Interchange, where it merges with the N3 and M1 freeways. The interchanges with which it coincides are (from south to north): Rand Show Road, Soweto Highway, (soon to be an interchange with the N17 highway), Maraisburg Road, Gordon Road, 14th Avenue, Beyers Naudé Drive, Malibongwe Drive, William Nicol Drive, and Rivonia Road.

The Western Bypass is the longest section of the Johannesburg Ring Road. The freeway is mostly four lanes wide in either direction, but fans out into six lanes between Rivonia and Buccleuch, where there is heavy traffic moving north towards Pretoria. The Western Bypass is part of the N1 road that spans the length of South Africa, which is the beginning of the famed Cape to Cairo Road.


By creating a narrower emergency shoulder, the freeway was widened during the 1990s from two lanes to three lanes in either direction, to alleviate massive traffic congestion on Johannesburg's roads.

From 2007, the Western Bypass was included in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), which will improve traffic conditions in the province and create jobs in construction. Three of the benefits for users of the bypass will include lighting for the full length of the bypass, increased lanes in most parts of the bypass and increased capacity at the northern interchanges with the bypass. The trade-off for this will be a toll project, aimed at the entire national road network in Johannesburg.

Very noticeably, the road is no longer concrete in construction, but has been tarred for its entire length. This spells a death-knell for its "Concrete Highway" nickname.

As with the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project the R511 William Nicol Drive and the M9/R556 Rivonia Road/Witkoppen Road interchanges were completely upgraded. The highway with the improvement project also upgraded all signage to new overhead signage.