As of 12h00 tomorrow Oudtshoorn will once again be connected to George and the rest of the Garden Route! There will be two "stop and go" sections where one lane is available at the rockfall sites, but these should be well managed and will add a maximum of 15min to your travel time.
The rockfalls on the N12 about 10km outside of Oudtshoorn on 29 July and a futher rockfall on the Outeniqua Pass (between George and Oudtshoorn) on 26 August, resulted in many daily commuters and tourists having to take alternative routes (either the Heimersrivier gravel road or Robinson Pass via Mossel Bay). I've been driving into George everyday this week, and while the Robinson Pass is beautiful, it's exhausting to drive more than 200km per day!
Due to the severity of the rockfalls, it was necessary to use explosives to blast the debris into manageable chunks. As a result, it's taken a month for authorities to reopen the route, which has had a negative impact on local businesses, particularly longhaul truck companies. Many businesses suffered to cope with the additional costs of maintenance when driving on the gravel road, and fuel when driving via Mossel Bay (double the distance!). One example is PSP Timber, which employs 380 people, and threatened to close down because sending the trucks via Mossel Bay on the Robinson Pass was costing an extra R10 000 per day!
Just goes to show how spatially interconnected everything is and how important transport corridors and routes can be to everyone from the businessman to the daily commuter. What's going to happen to this little dorp when we hit peak oil?!
Images: 1, 2