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Bypass study is open for comment

The issue of the proposed Hermanus bypass is once again back in the public domain after an amended environmental impact assessment was published last week.

The original environmental impact assessment (EIA) was rejected by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) in March 2018, and the department requested the consultants, SRK Consulting, to address additional aspects.

The amended document details the proposal by the Department of Transport and Public Works to build a road north of the Hermanus CBD to provide an alternative alignment for the R43.

The proposed bypass, which is approximately 3 km long, starts in the vicinity of the intersection of Main Road, Mountain Drive and Mimosa Street in the west. It then runs along to the north of Mountain Drive.

From here there are two possible routes for the road. The northern route – which is the preferred option by SRK Consulting – will see the road go north of the cemetery and the new Hermanus Sports Complex, before turning southwards along the eastern edge of the sports fields (northern alternative). The second option is that the road goes south of the cemetery and intersects with Lord Roberts Drive, before continuing in a north-easterly direction along Jose Burman Drive between the Hermanus High School and the Hermanus Sport Complex (southern alternative).

From there, southwards across the eastern portion of the Hermanus High School sports fields and along a section of Fairways Avenue between the residential suburb of Eastcliff and Hermanus Golf Course, joining Main Road at a new traffic circle.

The proposed bypass has been sharply opposed by locals since the project’s inception for various reasons. One relates to environmental concerns. If the northern route is approved, a part of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, which is deemed a critical biodiversity area by the South African National Biodiversity Institute will be lost. The route also suggests a path adjacent to the golf course wetlands that is designated as an Ecological Support Area (ESA).

The displacement of the Hermanus Country Market has also been a cause for concern. Liza Copenhagen, owner of the market, says the bypass has been a very hard and long road for the market.

The amended EIA suggests Overstrand Municipality has an area in the vicinity of the sport fields that will be earmarked for the market relocation. Another option suggests it could be situated within the 2 ha of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve that would have to be de-proclaimed if the northern route gets the go-ahead.

The document also suggests additional costs incurred by market relocation, as a result of the bypass construction, be reimbursed.

“We have never had security of tenure, with either a six month, annual or no lease at all,” says Copenhagen. “We welcome the possibility of staying where we are for a long while still, before the final decision is made on the bypass.”

Another concern has been the need for the bypass, and many opponents previously suggested that the growth projections do not justify the project. In the amended document an updated traffic count in January 2020 indicate traffic growth rate of 5,3% per annum in the morning peak hour and 8,2% per annum in the evening peak hour over more than six years. Traffic on Mountain Drive increased on average by 7,7% per annum in the AM and PM peak hours.

The EIA Report of 66 documents can be downloaded from SRK’s website at srk.co.za.Comments can be submitted by email to Kelly Armstrong of SRK Consulting at karmstrong@srk.co.za, by 20 July. After the comment period, the Amended Final EIA Report will be submitted to DEA&DP. The final decision will be communicated to all IAPs.

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