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Toll road plans are going ahead Print E-mail
29 September 2009

Work on the new toll gantry system

Soon motorists will have to pay tolls to drive on freeways across Gauteng, with a toll gantry system promising free flow of traffic.

PLANS to introduce a new toll gantry system that will improve traffic flows along the major highways in Gauteng are under way.

The Reading interchange
The Reading interchange
Alex van Niekerk, the manager for toll and traffic at the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral), said the agency awarded the contract for the implementation and operation of a multilane, free-flow tolling system to the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) joint venture.

The system, known as open road tolling, would be installed by ETC over 18 months, and was scheduled to start operating in April 2011.

Van Niekerk said toll charges would be deducted electronically as special tag-bearing vehicles passed gantry bars mounted with sensors at strategic points along the toll highways.

"Tolls on the upgraded roads will be collected by means of electronic equipment at tolling points without having physical toll plazas that require road users to slow down or stop. In essence, this means that there will be a free-flow of traffic."

Vehicles are fitted with a tag card that is read by microwave equipment fitted on to a gantry. They can be identified even when they are travelling up to 180 kilometres an hour. Tolls are paid later by debiting the user's bank account.

Van Niekerk explained that 42 tolling points in Gauteng would feature two gantries housing Etag or licence plate readers, vehicle classification equipment, cameras and a technical equipment shelter.

"Motorists will have to subscribe to a device which will relay information to a central clearing house which, in turn, will remit the toll charges to various highway concessionaries based on the toll rates," said Van Niekerk.

The central clearing house would also manage a closed circuit television camera (CCTV) system to monitor road safety and inform the police of errant drivers, with a high level of accuracy, he added.

Should a vehicle not be fitted with a tag reader, licence plate details would be captured by the camera. This system eliminated the need for tolling lanes altogether, since there was no need for traffic to be channelled towards payment points.

Van Niekerk said the toll system was part of the multi-billion rand Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, the first phase of which involved the upgrading of 185 kilometres of highways in the province.

Motorways now being upgraded included sections of the N1, N3, N12 and R21. The current upgrades included the widening of the freeways to up to four lanes in each direction and six lanes in some cases, which would result in a better traffic flow on the roads between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

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