N2 (South Africa)

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National route N2 shield
National route N2
Route information
Maintained by SANRAL, City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality[1]
Length2,255 km (1,401 mi)
Major junctions
West endBuitengracht Street in Cape Town
 
East end N11 / N17 in Ermelo
Location
Major cities
Highway system
Numbered routes of South Africa
N1 N3

The N2 is a national route in South Africa that runs from Cape Town through Gqeberha, East London, Mthatha and Durban to Ermelo.[2] It is the main highway along the Indian Ocean coast of the country. Its current length of 2,255 kilometres (1,401 mi) makes it the longest numbered route in South Africa.[3]

Route[edit]

Major towns and cities along the route of the N2 include Cape Town, Somerset West, Caledon, Swellendam, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Humansdorp, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Qonce (formerly King William's Town), Bhisho, East London, Mthatha, Kokstad, Port Shepstone, Durban, KwaDukuza, Empangeni, Piet Retief and Ermelo.

Western Cape[edit]

Cape Town

The N2, which is also known at this point as the Eastern Boulevard (now Nelson Mandela Boulevard), as it enters the City Bowl of Cape Town.

The N2 begins in central Cape Town at the northern end of Buitengracht Street outside the entrance to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The first section of the N2 is shared with the beginning of the N1; it is a four-lane elevated freeway that runs along a strip of land between the city centre and the Port of Cape Town. On the eastern edge of the city centre the two roads split, and the N2 turns south as Nelson Mandela Boulevard, crossing above the yards and approach tracks of Cape Town railway station.

Leaving the CBD, the N2 descends to ground level after the R102 Christiaan Barnard on-ramp in Woodstock. Continuing roughly east-southeast, the N2 intersects a few roads in the Woodstock area, most notably Roodebloem Road, which provides access to the M4 Main Road and University Estate, located on the north-western slopes of Devil's Peak. After leaving the Woodstock area, the N2 meets the M3 Phillip Kgosana Drive, from the southern City Bowl, atop Mowbray Ridge in Observatory, where these two roads merge into a massive 10-lane highway, and bend around the University of Cape Town Medical Campus and Groote Schuur Hospital, before splitting at the bottom of the ridge, with the M3 running towards University of Cape Town and the Southern Suburbs. This intersection is called Hospital Bend, and was the scene of frequent bottlenecks and accidents due to the lack of pre-selection lanes. However, this stretch of road has been extensively upgraded and made safer, in what was called a "feat of engineering". [1][2]

After Hospital Bend the N2 turns east and forms the border between Observatory and Mowbray, intersecting Main Road, Liesbeek Parkway, the M5 Black River Highway, and Raapenberg Road. These intersections are in very close proximity, and are the source of congestion on this stretch of road. However, the closing of intersections (especially Main Road) was deemed undesirable due to the negative impact this would have on businesses. After leaving the Southern Suburbs, the N2 travels across the Cape Flats as a 6-lane freeway towards Somerset West. It travels just past the southern end of the main runway at Cape Town International Airport, crosses the M7 and R300 highways, both linking the N2 with Mitchells Plain in the south and Goodwood and Brackenfell in the north, after which it becomes a 4-lane freeway after the R300 highway, passing nearby Khayelitsha and Macassar. It enters the Helderberg region where it passes through Somerset West and is reduced to an undivided highway after the R44 intersection, which links the N2 with Stellenbosch and the Winelands. Here it passes through several intersections with traffic lights, which causes frequent congestion. After Somerset West it bypasses Strand, Gordon's Bay and Sir Lowry's Pass Village.

Garden Route

After Sir Lowry's Pass Village, the N2 climbs Sir Lowry's Pass to enter the Overberg region. It passes near the town of Grabouw on the Hottentots-Holland plateau before descending the Houwhoek Pass to Botrivier. After Botrivier it passes across the agricultural plains through the towns of Caledon, Riviersonderend, Swellendam and Riversdale to re-approach the coast at Mossel Bay, which marks the beginning of the Garden Route.

N2 Freeway between George and Mossel Bay

Just west of Mossel Bay the N2 again becomes a divided freeway, and remains one as far as the intersection with the N9/N12 just outside George. From there it travels across Kaaiman's Pass (see below) to Wilderness and on to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. After Plettenberg Bay a section of the road is tolled as the Tsitsikamma Toll Route, primarily because of the Bloukrans Bridge. An alternative route used to run through Nature's Valley but this was closed in 2007 after flood damage.[4] The Bloukrans Bridge marks the border with the Eastern Cape and is the site of the world's highest bridge bungy, Bloukrans Bridge Bungy.[5]

Eastern Cape[edit]

After crossing the Bloukrans Bridge, the N2 becomes the Sunshine Coast Road, passing through the Southern edge of the Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve, and regains freeway status between Nompumelelo and Witsiebos. It runs eastward as a 2-lane single carriageway highway, bypassing the resort towns of Jeffreys Bay and St. Francis Bay, as well as the town of Humansdorp. The bridges along the intersections of the regional roads with the N2 have widened decks, which indicate the ambitions of future dualling of the entire stretch of the N2 between Nompumelelo and Colchester. It becomes a 4-lane dual carriageway freeway just before the R102 Van Stadens Interchange, and runs eastward toward the city of Gqeberha, which forms part of the third-largest metro along the N2 highway (the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality).[6]

Gqeberha

The N2 splits with the R334 after the Van Stadens Bridge, which provides an alternative route to KwaNobuhle and Kariega (formerly Uitenhage). It then enters Gqeberha at Hunters Retreat as a 4-lane dual carriageway freeway, and an intersection provides access to the new Bay West Mall. It runs eastward past the suburbs of Kabega Park and Tulbargh, before making a north-easterly turn just after the R102 Kragga Kamma Road intersection in More Grove. It then bypasses the suburbs of Newton Park and Korsten, before meeting the R75 at the Commercial Road Intersection, with the R75 linking the CBD, and ultimately Gqeberha, with Kariega and Graff-Reinet in the north. It passes through northern Sidwell, intersecting Kempston Drive, and the M4 Settlers Way Highway, which link the N2 with the CBD and Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport in the south as well as New Brighton and KwaZakhele and the industrial areas of Deal Party in the north, respectively. The N2 then runs northward toward Colchester, adjacent to the Indian Ocean. The N2 then runs across the estuarine area of the Swartkops River, before meeting the R334 at Motherwell and bypassing the new Coega SDZ, with a major intersection with Neptune Road linking the harbour with the N2. It loses freeway status after the R334 Addo South Gate intersection, and becomes a 2-lane single carriageway highway after Colchester.

After Gqeberha, the N2 turns north-eastwards, moving away from the coast towards Grahamstown; en route the N10 splits from the N2, going northwards towards Middelburg and eventually Namibia.

After passing around Grahamstown on a bypass, the N2 passes through the former Ciskei, including Peddie. At Qonce (King William's Town) it turns back towards the coast, meeting it at East London.

East London (eMonti)

The N2 becomes a 4-lane dual carriageway road after leaving Qonce, and regains freeway status at La Rochelle, just outside East London. It runs past Fort Jackson and Mdantsane, however there is a lack of access between the N2 and Mdantsane, despite the size of the township. It then passes to the north of Amalinda. After the M4 Amalinda Main Road intersection, it runs north of Vincent, intersecting the M1 Western Avenue, which links the CBD to Hemingways Mall and the outlying rural areas situated along the Nahoon River. It then descends into the Nahoon River Valley, meeting the N6 after the crossing the Nahoon River. It then passes Beacon Bay, partially intersecting the M8 Beacon Bay Road, and bypassing Gonubie to the north, becoming a 2-lane single carriageway highway after the R102 Main Road intersection (Gonubie Interchange). This is also the proposed start of the Wild Coast Toll Road, which is to run for 410 km towards Port Edward. It then continues as a freeway until shortly after the Brakfontein intersection, after which it leaves the Buffalo City Metro.

After East London, the N2 turns again towards the interior in a northeasterly direction to avoid the difficult terrain of the Wild Coast. It passes through the former Transkei and its former capital Mthatha. There are plans for the N2 to run as a 4 lane dual carriageway highway from Viedgesville to the Ngqeleni Village turn off, bypassing Mthatha to the south, as part of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road. After passing Mthatha, the N2 passes through the towns of Qumbu, Mount Frere (KwaBhaca) and Mount Ayliff. Near Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal the N2 climbs Brook's Nek to enter the province of KwaZulu-Natal.[7]

KwaZulu-Natal[edit]

The N2 enters KwaZulu-Natal atop Brooks Nek, after which it bypasses Kokstad to the south. This is also where the N2 meets the R56 from Matatiele, which provides an alternative route to Colesberg, and ultimately Cape Town via Middleburg, the N9 and the N1. The N2 and the R56 are co-signed for 43 kilometres, until which the R56 splits from the N2 at Stafford's Post. The N2 then runs southwards past the rural towns of Harding and Izingolweni, to enter Port Shepstone from the northeast through the town of Marburg, meeting the R61 at an intersection. The N2 then turns to the north, and is tolled. It then runs northward as the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast Toll Road, first running as a dual carriageway freeway for 4 kilometres, then losing dual carriageway status after the Umthentweni off-ramp, before regaining dual carriageway status just after Hibberdene. It passes through the rural areas of Southern KwaZulu-Natal, with the rural towns of Mthwalume, Umzinto and Dududu, and the resort towns of Park Rynie and Pennington lying to the west and east of the N2 respectively.

eThekwini Metropolitan Area (Durban)

The N2 enters the eThekwini Metropolitan Area as the Outer Ring Road, 60 kilometres south of Durban, as a dual carriageway freeway to the west of Scottburgh. It runs past the towns of Umkomaas and Umgababa, before entering the Durban metro proper at Amanzimtoti, running adjacent to resort houses and shopping centres such as the Galleria Mall and Arbour Crossing Shopping Centre. It runs past Isipingo and the old Durban International Airport, before splitting from the M4 at Umlazi, the M4 provides alternative access to the Durban CBD, the other major roads being the N3 and the M19 Umgeni Drive. After the M4, the N2 runs as a 8-lane dual carriageway freeway around the city of Durban, passing through the suburbs of Mobeni, Chatsworth, Sarnia, Ridgeview and Chesterville, with the M1 Higginson Highway intersection and the M7 Edwin Swales VC Drive interchange providing access to these suburbs. In future these intersections will be converted into free-flowing interchanges to accommodate the new traffic that will arise from the new Durban dig-out port, which will be situated where the old Durban International Airport is. After leaving Chesterville, the N2 meets the N3 at the EB Cloete Interchange (locally known as Spaghetti Junction) at Westville, the only 4-level stack interchange in South Africa (until the completion of the N1/R300 Brackenfell Intersection in Cape Town). It then passes through the suburbs of Clare Hills and Reservoir Hills, meeting the M19 Umgeni Drive at a large intersection just outside of Reservoir Hills. It then continues northward past Parlock, Riverhorse Valley, Briardene and Sea Cow Lake, with the M43 Queen Nandi Drive (which boasts the only petroport in Durban) and the R102 KwaMashu Highway providing access to these places, thereafter continuing towards Cornubia and Umhlanga, meeting the M41 at the Mount Edgecombe intersection. It then runs to the east of Verulam and to the west of La Lucia, passing by the King Shaka International Airport, it is also here that the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast Toll Road begins. After the airport, it is tolled at oThongathi, before continuing toward Ballito, where the Outer Ring Road ends and the N2 leaves the Durban Metro.

Newly upgraded Umgeni Interchange
Newly upgraded Mount Edgecombe Interchange

After Durban, the N2 runs as the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast Toll Road from King Shaka International Airport to Mtunzini, passing through Umhlanga, Ballito and Tongaat. The N2 runs close to King Shaka International Airport and a tolled off-ramp provides access to the airport. It is tolled twice before the freeway section ends at KwaDukuza (formerly Stanger), once at oThongathi and again before KwaDukuza. It then continues as a 4-lane single carriageway highway and passes through sugar cane plantations on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. It is tolled once again, and for the final time at Mtunzini and meets the R34 which provides access to Richards Bay to the east and Empangeni and Ulundi to the west. The 34 km stretch of the N2 between Mtunzini and Empangeni has been upgraded to a 4-lane dual carriageway. After Richards Bay, the N2 turns north, moving away from the coast into the heart of Zululand, where it bypasses Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park to the west and runs past the town of Mkuze before running close to the border of Eswatini, passing the town of Pongola.

Mpumalanga[edit]

After leaving Pongola, the N2 makes a direct line for Piet Retief and meets the R33 that links Piet Retief and Pietermaritzburg via Vryheid which is 370 kilometres away. It then heads for Ermelo where it eventually terminates where it meets the N11 at the corner of Voortrekkerlaan and De Emigratie Street in the town centre, just south of the N11's intersection with the N17.

The total length of the road is 2255 kilometres.

Toll Plazas[edit]

[8]

Tsitsikamma Toll Route[edit]

South Coast Toll Route[edit]

North Coast Toll Route[edit]

Disruption to route[edit]

Heavy rains triggered a mud-slide on the Kaaiman's pass section of the N2 between George and Wilderness. This caused the road to be temporarily closed from 26 August 2006. As a result of the slide a section of roadway sagged and large cracks appeared on the road surface. After an inspection by a team of engineers a single lane was reopened on 29 August for vehicles with a gross mass of under 5000 kg.

An alternative route following the Saasveld road was put into use, but this road only allows for a single lane of traffic and light vehicles. Heavy vehicles have to take an alternative route via the R62 and Langkloof pass effectively lengthening the distance from George to Wilderness from 11 km to over 60 km (news24.com story). The road has since reopened but major repairs are being done.

Traffic on the N2 has also been disrupted on numerous occasions because of protests. On 10 September 2007, residents of Joe Slovo Informal Settlement blockaded the N2 Freeway in Cape Town near Langa. Police responded with rubber bullets injuring over 30 residents.[9][10] On 4 December 2008, a few thousand residents of eMachambini, between KwaDukuza and Richards Bay in KZN, blockaded the N2 Freeway in protest against the proposed AmaZulu World Themepark. Police opened fire and injured about 23 residents and arrested about 10.[11]

On 20 October 2012, a section of the N2 was closed after heavy rainfall caused a collapse about 20 km outside Grahamstown.[12]

N2 Wild Coast Toll Route (N2WCTR)[edit]

As of 2018, there are plans to realign the N2 National Route from Port Shepstone to Mthatha, on a shorter stretch of road, and designate the entire stretch between Port Edward and East London as a toll road.[13][14][15] It is scheduled for completion in 2024 and this new N2 route will take over the entire section of the current R61 Route from Port Shepstone to Mthatha,[16] with realignment between Port Edward and Lusikisiki (providing a shorter stretch of road between the two towns).[16]

This new route, known as the Wild Coast Toll Route, will extend from East London (Gonubie Interchange) to Port Edward (Mthamvuna Interchange). There will be two new "greenfields" sections, one between Port St. John's and Lusikisiki, and the other between Lusikisiki and Port Edward. The latter greenfields section will provide a shorter and more direct route between Port Edward and Lusikisiki while the current R61 passes through Flagstaff and Bizana on route between the two towns. The greenfields sections will include two new toll plazas, namely the Mthentu Toll Plaza between Lusikisiki and Port Edward, and the Ndwalane Toll Plaza just outside of Port St. Johns.[14][15]

In this project, there are also plans to widen the N2 from Port St. Johns to East London to a 4-lane undivided highway. The new greenfields section between Lusikisiki and Port Edward will also include a 4-lane undivided highway, with a 4-lane dual carriageway through Lusikisiki. Bypasses around the towns of Butterworth (Gcuwa), Idutywa and Mthatha are to be constructed after the completion of the new toll road. According to Traveller24, this new route will be around 85 kilometres shorter and will be a faster route by about 3 hours, especially for heavy vehicles.[17] Once this new Wild Coast Highway is complete, the distance between Durban and East London will be reduced to 573 km and the overall route between Durban and Cape Town will be reduced to 1 621 km, making the N2 the shorter route between Durban and Cape Town. The old N2 route passing through Harding, Kokstad and KwaBhaca will be designated as the R102.

So far, some road signs on the Port Shepstone to Port Edward section of the R61 have already been changed to signs indicating the N2. Parts of the road in the Eastern Cape are already under construction.

Board signs indicating the N2 to Port Shepstone and Port Edward

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ N2/Settlers Freeway (“Hospital Bend”) Archived 2010-03-01 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Falkner, John (May 2012). South African Numbered Route Description and Destination Analysis (Report). National Department of Transport. pp. 7–12. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  3. ^ "South Africa's Longest Roads". KH Plant. 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  4. ^ Rautenbach, Anje. "#4x4Adventure: What happened to the Bloukrans Pass? | News24". News24. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  5. ^ My Destination Website, retrieved 26 April 2012
  6. ^ Africa, Statistics South. "Local Municipality | Statistics South Africa". Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  7. ^ Roberts, Trygve. "Brook's Nek (N2) - Mountain Passes South Africa". mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  8. ^ "N2 Toll Fees". www.foresightpublications.co.za. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  9. ^ "Cape Town: Police wade in on Joe Slovo shackdwellers blockade". labournet.
  10. ^ "N2 Gateway and the Joe Slovo informal settlement: the new Crossroads?". Abahlali.
  11. ^ "Cops break up protest over KZN development". Mail & Guardian. 5 December 2008.
  12. ^ http://www.allzanews.com/2012/10/20/section-of-n2-collapses-in-eastern-cape/[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "@nuxtjs/Amp".
  14. ^ a b "Wild Coast toll road on track". DispatchLIVE. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  15. ^ a b "N2 road project to continue". DispatchLIVE. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  16. ^ a b "Wild Coast Road project takes in highest bridge in Africa". The South African. 2020-09-05. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  17. ^ Etheridge, Jenna. "Court turns down N2 Wild Coast Road appeal". News24. Retrieved 2020-10-25.

External links[edit]