Suggested Traffic Planning for Port Elizabeth

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the realities

environment and energy
the trade off
DME campaign
growth and congestion
the calf path
road reserves - where are they
silent cops or silent executioneers

what to do

continuous flow methods
intersection design
level of service
context sensitive design
ways to reduce congestion toolbox
2007 comments re NMBM dedicated bus routes
2011 quo vadis BRT
letters and press articles


Suggested Plan for William Moffat Expressway
Suggested Plan for Fairview By Pass
Suggested Plan for Buffelsfontein/17th Ave zz
Suggested Plan for Uitenhage Road / N2
Suggested Plan for Disa Ave / N2
Suggested Plan for Stanford Rd / N2
Suggested Plan for Kempston Rd / N2
Suggested Plan for Walmer Heugh and Main Roads
Suggested Plan for Walmer Blvd / M4
Suggested Plan for Walmer Park / Main Road
Suggested Plan for Circular Drive and Kragga Kama
Suggested Plan for Samantha Rd / N2


By Pierre Joubert

Survey | SEO

Traffic Planning Suggestions for Port Elizabeth

Suggestions to reduce traffic congestion
and other issues

By Pierre Joubert

back to traffic planning suggestions
back to failed BRT page

Impact of BRTs on Joubert's suggestions

The unsolicited ideas for free flow in this presentation, by a concerned citizen calling himself traffic engineer in excile, were first put forward in 2007.

The advent of the 2010 Soccer World Cup interfered with these proposals, as suddenly there was a massive drive to implement the PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ACTION PLAN (PTAP) involving the building of a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) for Port Elizabeth.

As the BRT (phase 1) is now complete (March 2011) , and as there will be a waiting period before any next phases are built, Joubert is again putting forward his suggestions which are for an overall City plan covering all traffic not just busses.

Joubert looks at the congested arterial routes across the city and proposes to make these more efficient by employing free flow concepts. The concepts he proposes are in existence and under development elsewhere, but do not appear to be on the agenda for Cities in RSA. He says that if all traffic were to flow more efficiently, everyone will benefit, including those captive to public transport.

A repeat of the costly, inflexible, intrusive, irreversible and hurriedly planned reconstruction measures as applied in Phase 1 will then not be necessary.

The BRT phase 1, now that it is complete, warts and all, should be seen as a learning exercise so that the same mistakes are not repeated. The web page Quo Vadis BRT describes what's what in Joubert's opinion, and questions what should happen next

Quo Vadis BRT read more

Joubert's present suggestions

Joubert's original plan was driven by the ongoing rise in traffic congestion and increasing carbon awareness. It focused mainly on the existing cross town arterials, the congested M routes, and made suggestions as to how these could be improved by methods hitherto not seen in the Metro, but in existence and under development elsewhere.

This website shows Joubert's suggested improvements for various bottleneck intersections around the city. A great deal of Joubert's suggestions are derived from what is in effect elsewhere, and the local applicability thereof is offered here for review. Joubert posted his ideas on this website as a means of eliciting official and public participation.

Links inside this website

traffic congestion

carbon awareness

level of service

unconventional intersections

Toolbox for congestion relief

The high level people have created a "toolbox" of ideas to relieve congestion and listed a number of ways to reduce congestion. These fall under two main headings,

  • increase capacity
  • reduce loading

In this presentation we are looking at ways to increase capacity. BRTs are a means to reduce loading.

These concepts have to work together in an overall city plan

To view the "Toolbox" in detail click here

ways to increase capacity
turn left to go right

It is unlikely that further freeways like the ones on stilts could ever be built over or through the city, but the arterials, the M routes, can be made much more efficient than they are at present by applying unconventional intersections and limiting access to them.

These unconventional concepts permit free flow and have great potential to reduce the number of red lights, speed up traffic flow, reduce congestion and reduce the metro's carbon footprint.

The main principle to free up intersections is the indirect turn, turn left to go right, in this case illustrated by the median U turn.

the median U turn

The adjacent pic best shows the concept, as applied in the case of the median U turn (MUT), click on the pic for a larger view.

The median U turn is similar in a way to a large traffic circle in terms of the way traffic moves, except that it is long and narrow, has greater capacity, and is more flexible in the way it uses gound area.

This is an example of the concept that can be applied in Port Elizabeth and other cities. While the wide median as illustrated simplifies the application, the concept can be applied to narrow median roads by local widening at the nodes and / or using loons (second pic)

In Port Elizabeth the median U turn is the solution for William Moffat Expressway, and others including Uitenhage Road, Standford Road, Kragga Kama, etc

The source doc for these pics is Median U turn US dot.pdf that can be downloaded from this website. The median U turn originated in Detroit in the 1960s and was postulated by GM engineers. An early example was outside the prestigeous GM Tech Center on Mound Road in Warren Mich. It became known as the Michigan Left but was not immediately accepted by the other states or the US department of transport (DOT). It has been described in earlier US DOT and other documents, but this is the latest, in which DOT is giving more credence to the concept, as it is gradually being applied across the USA.

Unfortunately, up to now the concept of the median U-turn has not been fully understood by local NMBM planners, and attempts to apply it have not been successful. It will not be fully understood unless some inexpensive examples are built in suitable places in PE, like along the wide double carraige way of Uitenhage Road. It is strongly recommended that this be done as early as possible. From there the less straight forward cases can be developed

Links inside this website

William Moffat Expressway suggested plan

suggested plan for other NMBM arterials

median-U-turn-US-dot.pdf (999Kb)

William Moffett

the signficance of the route
as an arterial

The next major project is likely to be William Moffett. The sad part about William Moffat is that this so called Expressway, named after a former City Engineer by its creators around the 1970's, is becoming a shopping boulevard.

Based on current planning it is losing all hope of ever being a genuine expressway, while the need for it to function in that role steadily increases. Even the spelling of the name has been changed, perhaps so that old William shall not turn in his grave. He wont know it's him they are talking about.

The William Moffat Expressway even had a flyover, but when the Baakens Valley freeway was canned, the flyover was forgotten. So forgotten that a shopping center was built right over it

But William Moffet remains the shortest distance between the South and the North of greater Port Elizabeth as divided by the Great Barrier Channel, the Baakens River Ravine, or in Afrikaans, die Baakensrivierkloof.

The significance of this channel through the city, a smaller cousin of the van Stadens and Storms River gorges, cut through the tertiary coastal plataeu underlain by the Cape Fold Belt, on which the city lies, is not generally recognized. One rarely sees it, unlike Cape Town's Table Mountain which is seen all the time from any direction.

The scrolling view below from the Fairview side of the valley shows the 100 meter depth of the ravine behind the Pic and Pay Hypermarket. You dont just build a road through it, hence the importance of the William Moffett crossing and the arterial leading up to it.

William Moffett and Target Kloof are the only two routes crossing a 12km stretch of this ravine that provides direct links between south and north.

As the City has grown to the West, Moffet has taken increasing traffic over the years, and due to CBD flight from Central, Target Kloof has taken proportionately less. The only two other routes across the Baakens Valley are Kragga Kama, which is not a relief for Moffet because of longer distance, poorer accessibilty and similar congestion, and the M4, which serves another part of town. As growth in the Sea View direction will continue, and as Fairview will develop, Moffet traffic will grow further. There is no alternate "corridor" where an alternate free flowing route can one day be built

Therefore, without a doubt Moffet has to remain unencumbered, which to Joubert means limited access, no traffic lights, and free flow. It has to be a genuine arterial route with open ended capacity for the future. It cannot become another freeway in the true sense, it's too late for that, but it can and should become and remain a free flowing arterial.

Differing approaches exist between NMBM planners and Joubert on how William Moffett should be upgraded. The City will build a number of new wide lanes, which at first sight will be very impressive, but in practice, as in Buffelsfontein, will only perpetuate the existing endless procession of red lights, probably with a few extra ones added. The extra road width will be used for traffic to sit in and wait for lights to change.

Jouberts proposals are for the free flow approach as described above under the median U turn and other examples described on this website.

Re expropriation, in Joubert's opinion, if there is to be any expropriation, lets do it to maximum advantage, not to perpetuate the existing conventional slow flow type of layout, but rather to allow the free flow concepts herein described. If that is done the manner of expropriation may be different.

Joubert says that despite the above described growth prediction, there is enough vacant land without the need to extensively expropriate properties, if William Moffet is built as a free flowing artery.

The only spot where there is not enough space is at the Walmer West School and the adjacent temporary sub station that replaced the one that blew out during load shedding.

The controversial Moffett on Main complex was a close call on this corridor's road reserve capacity (t&c apply to use of terms), it should not have been allowed, any more than the Engen Station, DiData and Williams Hunt should have been allowed where today we should be building clover leafs around the dormant flyover. See elsewhere on this website "Property Developers, Saint or Satan" under Road Reserves. The link road presently being constructed is not an answer to the real issue. That will be discussed separately later, but call Pierre Joubert any time if you should wish to discuss this

At the south end of 17th there is enough space to fit in free flowing lanes, see my Buffelsfontein plan.

However, what has probably not been considered in the present William Moffett plans is that at the northern end of this corridor there is also an extreme bottle neck, namely the 14 meter wide Disa avenue at the spagetti bowl, the confluence of Disa, Burt drive, Cotswold and the N2. I believe the expropriation money if any should be spent in this area, to make space for a suitable intersection. Its all part of the same south north arterial route

view of early morning congestion at confluence of Disa, Burt, Cotswold and N2

William Moffett

suggested future form as an arterial

For William Moffett Joubert suggests a series of unconventional intersections plus some other ideas to minimise impacts, which have the maximum potential for improvement along this important arterial.

Suggested Plan for William Moffat Expressway
Suggested Plan for Fairview By Pass


Let's not repeat Buffelsfontein when we build the new Moffett. We can do much better

Joubert had a suggestion for Buffelsfontein Road at Builder's Warehouse that involved median U-turns. This would have eliminated the traffic signal at the junction with 17th Avenue and avoided two new ones, into the complex and at Titian Rd. The new one at the Sasol station further down the road could also have been avoided, by median placement lanes.

Local engineers dont really understand the median U-turn so no one was interested in looking at that. The present conventional layout was therefore built. Even the left turn from 17th to Buffels East was not freed up, despite the fact that there are oodles of space to have allowed it. Click on the pic to see the uneccesary red light.

The only improvement was that extra waiting lanes were added, so some time is saved because when the light turns green cars alongside each other can take off two by two instead of one by one. But that advantage is soon cancelled when they all have to stop at the next light when that turns red. The yo yo between green and red continues.

The concept of "continuous green at T junctions" was not applied at the two new East going lights, which could easily have been done. Click on pic to see the space available for a free continuous green lane on the left

The concept of the median U-turn will never be understood unless some inexpensive examples are built in some of the suitable places in PE, like along the wide doube carraige way of Uitenhage Road

overview of entire city

This schematic map of the CITY OVERALL shows the main arterials and the problem intersections. Click on the map to see a schematic of the entire city. Once inside the schematic, click again for the detailed map with titles.

Joubert's plan proposes to free up the main intersections and reduce the number of red lights, after which all routes and all traffic including busses will flow more freely. The present BRT plan does nothing to free up traffic in general, instead it adds to the problem and slows things down even more. A free flowing network of arterial routes will benefit all.

Joubert is attempting to draft a VISIBLE plan for the city overall that is clear and available for all to see.

Present legislation in any case requires all Cities to have such a plan, (Government Gazette No 30506 dated 30 November 2007) for overall clarity and to elicit public participation. This requirement was originally described on this website (below) under the heading "Initiatives by Government and Local Authority", but up to now the existence and location of that plan for public consumption is not known

Such a plan will allow inputs from all, and avoid surprises, for example, such as the Glen Hurd Link Road, which the Port Elizabeth Express (2011-04-06). described as the "Fairview road to nowhere".

If you wish to make a comment or contribution, please send an email to from traffic website. Contact Pierre Joubert on 074 104 7547

The original website follows here

The Realities

The economy is booming and the population is exploding (it was in 2007 when this was first written, but the results of the then boom is still with us in terms of the efect it had on road congestion)

Building construction is rampant with new developments taking up vacant ground everywhere

Road capacity is not keeping up with other growth factors. Road systems are overloaded, travel time is excessive and getting worse

Road reserves are unclear, their adequacy is under question and they under threat from building construction

New vehicle sales keep rising, compounding the overload situation

The demand for natural resources is growing and the infrastructure is straining at all corners

Rolling power cuts constantly threaten as electricity demand keeps growing

Traffic law enforcement is not keeping up, road safety is not under control

Fossil fuels that provide our petrol and diesel are increasingly hard to find. Alternative technologies to drive cars are proving hard to come by

Atmospheric pollution and global warming is threatening to upset the earth's delicate eco balance

Emergent economies, led by China and India, are joining the race for resources, compounding the demand on top of normal growth from established economies

From the original website

A bold plan needed

As Port Elizabeth strives to meet the needs of the future, builds it's image as an investment center, and prepares for the 2010 World Cup, a bold plan addressing all aspects of road capacity should be in place and visible to all stake holders. The city needs a bold plan to solve the congestion crisis, and at the same time, by not burning unnecessary fuel, do it's share to alleviate the worlds resource and environment challenges.

Fifty years ago a bold plan resulted in the freeways around our city that we still benefit from today, although certain bottlenecks have now developed. The main problem however is that arterial roads other than freeways have become totally clogged and there are other bottle necks all around the city. We do see road building activity, but much of it appears to be along traditional lines and at the end of the day we have more traffic signals, longer queues, more waiting time and more unnecessary burning of fuel.

A plan for our city needs to include some tough objectives to deal with economic and environmental realities, and some new ideas on how to improve road user efficiency.

A successful plan can set an example to other centers.

From the original website

Initiatives by Government and Local Authority

Mayor to Drive R1.3bn transport plan for PE - The Herald 18 September 2007 announced plans for NMBM

For more detail re this click here Quo Vadis BRT

Document approved by the Cabinet January 2007 set the guidelines for an integrated transport system,click on icon to read full document (large file 2.5Mb, appears to be no longer available from .gov site, but can be downloaded here) and the gazetted notice below sets the minimum requirements

Government Gazette No 30506 dated 30 November 2007


click here to read Government Gazette No 30506 full document

Selected text from Government Gazette No 30506 sections 4 and 5

4. lntegrated Transport Plans (ITPs) have to be prepared by all municipalities.

5. PRINCIPLES FOR PREPARING TRANSPORT PLANS The following principles apply to the preparation of ClTPs and, where applicable, to DlTPs and LITPs-

Transport plans must be developed so as to-

(a) enhance the effective functioning of cities, towns and rural areas through integrated planning of transport infrastructure and facilities, transport operations including freight movement, bulk services and public transport services within the context of those integrated development plans and the land development objectives set in terms of section 27 of the Development Facilitation Act, 1995 (Act No. 67 of 1995), or, where applicable, land development objectives of that nature set in terms of replacing legislation or relevant provincial laws;

(b) direct employment opportunities and activities, mixed land uses and high density residential development into high utilisation public transport corridors interconnected through development nodes within the corridors, and discourage urban sprawl where public transport services are inadequate;

(c) give priority to infilling and densification along public transport corridors;

(d) give higher priority to public transport than private transport by ensuring the provision of adequate public transport services and applying travel demand management measures in a manner that provides incentives for sustainable mobility management;

(e) enhance accessibility to public transport services and facilities, and transport functionality in the case of persons with disabilities;

(f) maintain and further develop road infrastructure so as to improve travel by all roadbased modes of transport where appropriate;

(g) minimise adverse impacts on the environment; and

(h) support / stimulate economic growth and development.

In addition-

(i) Plans must pay due attention to the development of rural areas, and transport for special categories of passengers must receive specific attention.

(ii) Transport plans should acknowledge and, where necessary, plan for the role of appropriate non-motorised forms of transport such as walking and cycling.

(iii) Transport plans and transport programmes must be synchronised with other planning initiatives and must indicate how they are integrated into the municipal integrated development plans, the land development objective processes and the municipal budgeting process.

(iv) The preparation of a transport plan or transport programme must include the consultation and participation of interested and affected parties required for the preparation of integrated development plans in terms of Chapter 4 and section 29(l)(b) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act No. 32 of 2000) or replacing legislation.

From the original website

what to do

The recommendations here-in contained look at the Metro from a distance and attempts to address the transportation scene overall, including important policy issues like macro traffic counts, present and forecast, arterial routes and road reserves.

Regarding policy issues the author has earlier said that the City should have an overall traffic plan, stated in a letter to the Weekend Post 2006-05-27 "BEYOND WILLOW ROAD". The letter can be found on this website (click here)

The DOT has now declared that all municipalities must have such a plan as per the above Government Gazette. The author offers for consideration that the proposals per this website can be an early draft of such a plan

Regarding the flow of traffic the recommendations here-in center mainly around suggested changes to existing road layouts so that bottlenecks are removed and continuous flow is achieved.

The author's concern is that such features, which are new to the NMBM, should be part of the planning for the new PTAP. There is great urgency to get the show on the road, but it would be unwise to spend all that money without review of all the options

The said features will include

  • Adopt continuous flow methods including one way streets where ever possible
  • Arterial urban routes definition to be reviewed and confirmed
  • Number of traffic signals to be reduced
  • Random access to arterial routes to be removed
  • Left-in left-out rule to be widely applied (restrict random right turns)
  • Road reserves to be clarified and adequacy reviewed
  • Restrictions to future building to be applied where roadspace is restricted

However this will be easier said than done because of obstacles that have grown over time, such as layouts we have inherited via the calf paths of the past, and trade-offs that need to be made, for example read more


I believe the most relevant reference for this subject is SANRAL's Geometric Design Manual because it is the official RSA reference

However I consulted many other sources which are described in the bibliography on this web site. Certain options are not in SANRAL, and therefore not seen on RSA roads, such as median U-turns (go left to turn right). These can have a major influence on creating continuous flow. See refs

Also SANRAL does not address the problem of growing traffic congestion, in regard to which I have included a reference below to an authoritive American document, in which will be found support for concepts like one way streets and for items listed in the "Traffic Congestion Toolbox"

Traffic Congestion and Reliability
Trends and Advanced Strategies for Congestion Mitigation

September 1, 2005


From the original website

Traffic Congestion Toolbox

The ways to reduce congestion on roads fall into two main categories

  • Increase capacity
  • Reduce loading

To view the "Toolbox" in detail click here

From the original website

Seven Princiles for Planning Efficient Roads

  1. Safeguard our priviledge of freedom of movement
    • Respect our place in the history of fossil fuels that made that possible
    • Recognize that fossil fuels were created over millions of years
    • Recognize that we are depleting them in less than two centuries
  2. Adopt and embrace a policy to achieve free traffic flow, save time and burn less fuel
  3. Identify and classify existing routes by the heirachial levels of
    • freeway
    • arterial
    • collector/distributor
    • local
  4. Proclaim arterial and collector/distrubutor routes for urgent upgrade to free flowing status
    • Give through traffic preference over local traffic on arterial routes
    • Restrict access and eliminate stops along arterial routes in urban areas
    • Keep speeding shortcut traffic out of residential areas by making the arterial routes work
  5. Re-identify road reserves and
    • Protect these from property development and other irreversible building actions
    • Use reserves that have lain for years in current planning to get things moving
    • Proclaim additional reserves timeously where planning shows this is needed
  6. Identify bottlenecks and develop a plan to deal with each
    • Apply innovative road features to improve traffic flow
    • Avoid complex routes inside new residential areas
  7. Recognize natural speed profiles, dont penalize all for the sins of a few law breakers
    • Recognize that all vehicles use less fuel at steady moderate speeds without stopping
    • Recognize and avoid road features for traffic control that cause damage to cars
    • Deal with lawlessness by proper law enforcement, not by silent cops
    • Achieve safe 80km/h speed limits on arterial routes in urban areas after upgrades

From the original website

continuous flow methods

To improve the flow of traffic on existing roads we need to

  • Recognize the need and importance of arterial routes
  • Proclaim arterial status for the main routes
  • Reduce the number of random access points to arterials that we have today
  • Adopt some innovative traffic flow concepts

the four keys to continuous flow

From the original website

Environment and Energy
Global warming and fossil fuels

We live in a unique spot in the history of the Earth. For 4500 million years Earth has existed. Changes and evolution were counted in millions of years until the past 100 years, when gargantuan events occurred.

During these past 100 years the growth in technology, production and population was greater that at any other time in history. But during these 100 years man has also depleted much of the earth's fossil fuel reserves, which were formed 300 million years ago. Once gone, these fuels, that we buy for a few Rand at the pumps and take for granted, will be gone forever. (click on pic to enlarge)

But not only do these fuels drive our cars, trucks, ships and aeroplanes, they are also the source of raw materials for all carbon based materials, the tar on the roads, the fabrics we wear and the plastics in just about everything we buy. Locked up in every grain of fossil fuel is a reservoir of energy from the sun from millions of years ago

Every time we wade through congested traffic we are wasting this precious resource

From the original website

Growth and Congestion

This 1963 map of the Fairview and adjoining areas shows the built up areas that existed at that time, the dark shaded areas.

The same map updated in 1995 shows that extensive built up areas had been added by that time, the dark grey areas.

Today's existing road structure was essentially in place in 1963, and has had little done to increase its capacity, despite this massive growth in building construction.

To see Photo Gallery of Growth and Congestion click here

enlarge maps 165kb

From the original website

Road Reserves - where are they

In the background of road planning are road reserves. The Americans call it Right of Way. Road reserves should be clearly defined and jealously guarded from building construction, so that space is retained for future increases in capacity if and when needed. However, there are challenges in the administration of road reserves

One of the challenges is that their existence and adequacy is not always clear. Established building lines and fence lines are probably where the road reserve boundaries lie, but the pattern is haphazard (click on picture), and as congestion grows their adequacy should be questioned. As building construction reaches close to the roads everywhere, one wonders how well these valuable green lungs of transport are going to be protected.

Obviously so because who could long ago have planned road reserves to be adequate forever into the future, and what commitments to their reverence exists among those empowered to violate or enhance their purpose.

In some cases road reserves have already been violated.

Opinions on this will differ, but everywhere the questions hang, what can be done to reduce the congestion, and is there enough space to build the roads of the future. We will look at the pattern of the past and try to project it into the future, but what ever views are taken, the question of future road space needs to be addressed urgently while there is still time, before the last remaining open spaces are also built up, without a broad bold plan for the future.

From the original website

The Calf Path

The calf path is present in all our planning either in that we have to live with structures built by those before us, or that we are conditioned to do things along traditional lines, dont rock the boat, you cant go there, that will cost too much, etc

Every time we dont break from the calf path we entrench old obstacles deeper, and make it more impossible for those after us to do anything about. The photo (click on) of an old part of PE shows what this means from a travel point of view. From any point to any other point count the number of signals to cross eg from A to E - 4, B to D - 5

In this presentation old calf paths are questioned and challenged.

From the original website

Silent Cops
or Silent Executioneers

read more

Silent cops in the form of speed humps, miscellaneous "calming measures", channelization and non mountable kerb stones are negative planning features, shifting the focus to the wrong places. Hard objects can cause invisible damage to tyres, later leading to blowouts after sustained highway speeds.

Many road deaths have resulted from burst tyres, the one in the photo fortunately did not cause an accident. In our planning we need to get away from this negative sort of approach

While inside our cars we are protected by a multiplicity of safety features, recognizing the inevitable that accidents may occur, outside our cars we have these hazardous road features on an opposite philosophical basis

Click on the picture to see blown tyre and scuff marks from contact with kerb stones and click here to read more

last line

page first posted 2007-07-15
last update 2011-09-04

If you wish to make a comment or contribution, please send an email pierre joubert


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