Landmark skywalk to boost safety, tourism in Auckland Park

Artist's impression of the planned skywalk traversing the intersection of Kingsway Avenue and Beyers Naudé DriveArtist's impression of the planned skywalk traversing the intersection of Kingsway Avenue and Beyers Naudé Drive.

A circular "skywalk" is set to make life easier, and a lot safer, for the thousands of University of Johannesburg students who daily navigate the intersection of Kingsway Avenue and Beyers Naudé Drive in Auckland Park.

intersection of Beyers Naudé Drive with Kingsway AvenueAerial photo that just includes, at bottom, the intersection of Beyers Naudé Drive with Kingsway Avenue. (Campus Square is visible on the north-east side of the intersection, and one of UJ's residences on the south-east side. The university is out of picture on the south-west side.) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION.The elevated walkway, which is currently in the advanced design phase, will enable pedestrians to travel on foot or by bicycle between the university campus and neighbouring residences, Campus Square shopping centre and nearby restaurants and shops.

Situated along the Empire-Perth Corridor of Freedom, along a busy route for minibus taxis, Rea Vaya buses and ordinary traffic, the Kingsway-Beyers Naudé intersection is one of the busiest in the area and, for the pedestrians who use it, a safety hazard.

Easing pedestrian-vehicular conflict

"There is a lot of pedestrian and vehicular conflict," Siyabonga Genu, development manager at the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), told the Sunday Times. "We have counted more than 4 000 students crossing that intersection at peak hour."

The JDA has been tasked by the City of Joburg with designing and implementing a solution for this pedestrian-vehicle congestion, which according to Genu is compounded by the vehicle slip lanes at all four legs of the intersection.

The skywalk will be a landmark in its own rightThe skywalk will ease the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and also be a landmark in its own right.A skywalk that raises pedestrian traffic above ground level is not only a simple and elegant solution, Genu told Sunday Times, but would also become "a landmark in its own right".

The walkway is also firmly in line with the City's commitment to creating liveable, sustainable urban environments which residents are able to navigate safely and efficiently using both public and non-motorised transport.

Thumbs-up from students

A number of UJ students still coming and going in the area after exam time, when asked this week what they thought of the JDA's solution, were highly supportive.

Twenty-year-old Katlego Mosima said she had always found the intersection to be dangerous. "There isn't even a zebra crossing, so we often have to run across the road looking out for taxi drivers and speeding motorists. I think a bridge would allow for easy, safe travel over this busy roadway."

For 22-year-old Gladwell Ngweng, the skywalk would yield many positives for students. "We have this end of the campus, and on side of the intersection there are shops and restaurants, as well as off-campus housing on the other side, and in between there is busy traffic.

"Drivers here are not very considerate and they just keep going no matter what," Ngweng said. "There isn't a crosswalk, so I think a lot of students resort to jaywalking, which is obviously very dangerous."

Genu told Sunday Times that, pending approval of the final designs, construction of the skywalk should begin around the middle of 2016 and take about a year to complete.