City Traffic Still Mostly Under Control

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By Fifi Rhodes WINDHOEK The traffic arteries that lead into the city down the five main inflow roads from Khomasdal, Katutura, Pionierspark and Rehoboth are clogged with vehicles – a scene that repeats itself every working day. Windhoek City planners, through their public relations office, responded to an earlier article carried by New Era saying that according to the road hierarchy, they call the main feeder roads connecting various suburbs and the CBD with each other “arterial roads”. “In general, it would appear as if the arterials are saturated, implying the demand is exceeding the capacity of that particular street,” explained one official. The number of lanes, still, in most instances determines capacity. They say the overall capacity is restricted by intersections as the determining factor. In terms of our traffic engineering principles, ” … all design criteria and service levels are established according to an hourly traffic peak”. In Windhoek there is hardly a peak hour but more an average peak ranging from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. During this peak, the volumes at times exceed the capacity and the streets are therefore saturated, causing congestion. Still, when seen over an hour, such volumes are below the capacity of that particular street, implying spare capacity. Windhoek City only recently conducted a transportation land-use study, and, according to that study, Sam Nujoma Drive (west), Florence Nightingale and Moses GaroÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«b will be next in line requiring upgrading, not particularly in that order. In all instances, the City fathers announced that plans are already in place to upgrade the arterial network for Windhoek – a city that is described as the smallest and the cleanest city in Southern Africa. Such plans, the statement reads, are available for examination and will be implemented once warranted – considering priorities, available resources and budget constrains. “All previous attempts to obtain the necessary funds to start with these projects have failed. These projects will again need to be motivated for our next financial year.” With regard to traffic congestion during peak hours, engineers’ of the city council have conducted transportation studies that are done regularly to establish if the City is still on the right track with its planning and whether the planned routes address the future capacities and travel needs of Windhoek. “The latest study was conducted in 2004 and completed in 2005. As part of this study, traffic volumes were counted and inserted into a model to make predictions regarding various growth scenarios.” “From a traffic volume perspective, in comparison to previous studies, the actual growth rate for Windhoek’s traffic was less than the anticipated growth rate since 1993. According to the study results, various projects should have started this financial year. However, these were found to be of no priority and no funds could be secured,” said a City official. Traffic counts are also conducted at intersections to optimise traffic light settings. According to these, the overall traffic volumes over the past five years increased by the same amount as the City’s population – around 4.5%. Still, indications are that the traffic volumes from the north-western suburbs alone increased by more than the average 4.5%, implying a bigger increase in vehicle ownership for the north-western suburbs. The new extended Robert Mugabe road to Katutura is not carrying a high traffic count or accidents. The route was supposed to lessen the volume on Independence Avenue but city engineers said that traffic volumes do not necessarily have a direct relation to the number of accidents. To the contrary, the statement reads – “higher volumes could imply lower driving speeds, reducing the number of accidents. Speeding and irresponsible driving habits meanwhile do have a direct relation to the number and severity of accidents. Recent counts conducted reveal that the average number of vehicles driving along Robert Mugabe Avenue during the AM peak period is 1700 vehicles. During the PM peak period this volume is reduced to 1400 vehicles. During the off-peak periods, the average is around 700 vehicles per hour. Since this is a new road link, traffic would have been accommodated along other streets – for instance Independence Avenue.

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