Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk and Ricus Fivaz, Municipal Project Manager show off the newly refurbished sidewalk along Market Street.
The upgrade of Market Street established in 1836, extends from York Street to Hope Street and includes a full rebuild and upgrade of the full road reserve and the asphalting of the pedestrian walkways that include the paving of the furniture zone. (The furniture zone is the area for all street furniture (benches), streetlights, waste bins etc. and acts as a buffer between the roadway and the pedestrian sidewalk.) Of the five (5) phases, three will be completed by end of September 2022 and the latter two phases, are progressing well with completion set for February 2023.
Additional grant funding was gazetted in March 2022 and savings elsewhere on the GIPTN overall 2021/22 budget allowed for phases 4 and 5 of the Market Street upgrade to proceed to construction earlier than planned. An important requirement of the GIPTN funding agreement with the Municipality is that all road upgrades on GO GEORGE bus routes must be upgraded in terms of Universal Accessibility(UA) as well. What this means is that any individual (whose mobility, communicative ability, or understanding is reduced) should be able to access and use a pedestrian walkway, a bus stop and so on, freely and independently.
George Municipality has made huge strides in drafting the necessary UA design criteria and is currently one of few that have produced a design criteria document. Retrofitting a street such as Market Street in terms of UA is not an easy task with provision having to be made for both property and street universal accessibility access, while maintaining the longitudinal slope along Market Street’s walkways. The science of universal accessibility is not exact due to the variability of existing roads that must be adapted to, and a number of lessons learnt during the construction of Market Street will be carried forward to future road projects.
Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk visited Market Street recently following an ad hoc inspection undertaken by UA specialists to assess the implementation of UA along Market Street. “These improvements for universal accessibility allow for wider pavements and will go a long way in ensuring mobility and access for all users; those making use of wheelchairs and people with other disabilities. Although this has been a challenging project that included the repositioning of streetlight poles to allow for universal access compliance, these challenges have been adequately managed by our highly skilled civil engineering services department. This is a world class improvement along one of the most important and most used stretches/sections of road for our Go George bus services. These improvements are most welcome and will go a long way in servicing all residents,” said Ald Van Wyk.
The UA specialists noted that significant progress has been made by the Municipality and solutions were provided for any shortcomings which were identified during the inspection. Further regular inspections are planned to ensure that the ongoing construction achieves the maximum level of UA compliance given the complex urban environment that is being upgraded.