Future of the freeway discussed

The City unveiled six proposals for the unfinished bridges in the City Bowl on Monday March 6.

The unfinished bridges on the Foreshore have loomed over the city as white elephants for over 60 years.

The City of Cape Town has now unveiled six proposals from the private sector for the development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct.

The proposals are on display in the Civic Centre for the pubic to view.

In recent years the bridges have been used for film and fashion shoots as well as a shelter by the homeless.

Mayor Patricia de Lille announced that the Foreshore freeway project will be the first of its five Transit-Orientated Development (TOD) projects which will aim to bring economic and residential development closer to transport corridors.

Athlone, Bellville, Philippi and Paardevlei Precint in Somerset West are also set to get a facelift over the next five years.

“We are really making history today and welcome the public to look and provide feedback on the proposals situated on the concourse level of the Civic Centre. No mayor before me has attempted to find a solution and I pledge to do something about the unfinished bridges as my legacy project,” she said at a press conference, on Monday March 6.

In June last year, the City called on the private sector to submit their proposals for the development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct, which is set to form the basis for the chosen concept.

In 2012, following the launch of the Transport for Cape Town (TCT) directorate, the City attempted to find a solution to the unfinished bridges. They sought the input of design students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) who unveiled their ideas to Ms De Lille at the Cape Town City Hall on April 14 2014.

No decision was ever taken until now.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development authority, said the exhibition of the six proposed models marks a
historical moment in the city’s urban development.

“It gives us a glimpse of the future by demonstrating how transit-oriented development can transform Cape Town’s spatial reality. We, the City, residents and developers – now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape one of the most valuable, vital and iconic precincts in the Mother City. The three unfinished highways on the western, central and eastern side of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct are almost as iconic as Table Mountain,” Mr Herron said.

He said at the centre of the precinct is a strip of City-owned land – six hectares in size and 140 metres wide – which is located under and between the existing and unfinished highways, between the city’s northern edge and Cape Town Harbour.

“The proposals for this strip of land must address Cape Town’s traffic woes and affordable housing needs. It must materialise our vision of transit-oriented development. It must also leave us with a lasting legacy – one that will add to the attractiveness of Cape Town as an international destination, and at the same time help us to address the challenges of a steadily growing city centre,” Mr Herron said.

Following the collating of the public comments by the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC), the successful bidder will be chosen.

According to Mr Herron, the evaluation process by the BEC will take into account the viability of the transport solution, the provision of social housing and the financial model.

“After the conclusion of the public viewing period on Tuesday March 21, the bidders will present their proposals to the BEC and answer questions. The next six-month phase will start on the date of the signing of the agreement with the successful bidder.”

Mr Herron said the public consultation process will be governed by the Municipal Planning By-law and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The City hopes to break ground on site within two years after the contract has been awarded.

When quizzed about how the six anonymouse bidders were selected, Mr Herron said: “The bidding process was open. It was advertised in print media and a prospectus was issued to anyone who requested it. A briefing session was attended by over 100 people. The City issued the prospectus for the development in the CBD on July 8 last year along with a supply chain management (SCM) issued Request for Proposal (RFP).”

He said the prospectus was a public document which provided investors and developers with all of the information they needed to devise a development proposal for this precinct.

“The deadline for the submissions as detailed in the RFP was December 8 last year. Under the auspices of the SCM process a postponement was granted to Thursday February 9 this year. A media release announcing the postponement was also issued,” he added.

Mr Herron told the Atlantic Sun that the City conceptualised the vision of the project and it was compiled by a multi-disciplinary team, along with the RFP document by the Bid Specification Committee(BSC).

“The BSC comprises a multi-disciplinary team of both SCM and technical experts. This BSC also has both internal and external technical experts,” he explained.

Architect and journalist Mary-Anne Constable was intrigued by the proposals on display but wanted to know more about the financial feasibility study submitted by the various bidders.

“I would like to see a funding proposal. I don’t think it’s financially impossible but it would require some creative funding ideas to get it off the ground so to speak. “My favourite proposal was one in which the design of the buildings was more constrained and yet still dynamic in their detailed design. I also think that the proposals that considered in-depth the environmental sustainability of the buildings are strongest as we must address issues of water, energy and waste in future design,” she said.

Ms Constable was impressed by the six submissions and is excited to see the outcome. “I liked the proposals that included the idea of making some of the highways into public urban parks – inspired by the New York City Highline. This is a way of ‘reclaiming’ space from cars which have for a long time been king of the city.”

The unfinished freeways were designed by former City engineer Solomon “Solly” Morris.

The display will be open for viewing until Saturday March 11 and from Monday March 13 to Tuesday March 21, between 8.30am and 4pm. On Sunday March 19, the MyCiTi service will be free for the public to use to visit the exhibition.