Civil Designer Showcase

Nasrec 2010 Infrastructure Developments

With less than a year to go before eager spectators queue in line to enter the Soccer World Cup stadium, the office of Goba's Gauteng branch is abuzz with activity. Leon Mbongwa talks proudly of his involvement in the infrastructure developments of Gauteng's Nasrec area

The five phased development initiative is possibly one of the most challenging ventures ever undertaken by Leon. "The R350 million project was commissioned by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and funded by the National Department of Transport and the City of Johannesburg. The venture will be aimed at developing the existing area into a world class sport, tourism and exhibition node by using the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final venue as a catalyst for investment," explains Leon.

Significant upgrades, estimated at around R180 million are planned for the transport network and bulk services alone, and include the provision of a public transport hub and the extension of the Golden highway by 2km. In addition, a pedestrian bridge has been proposed between the transport hub and the main entrance to Soccer City, making this a civil engineer's dream project.

Leon's track record which is evident in his academic progression, displays his strong determination to succeed in the civil engineering profession. His diploma in Civil Engineering was soon followed by his BTech in Urban and Transportation engineering. From here, Leon continued with renewed resolve to complete his BSc Honours and is currently enrolled for his Master's degree in transportation engineering. It is this kind of tenacity that is also reflected in his professional work and in particular, the Nasrec project.

Despite the scope of the venture, Leon is in his element. The project challenges seem to spur him on even further. "Part of the project's complexity is that it comprises of five separate but interrelated phases. The first phase involves the pedestrian promenade which will create a bridge link from the stadium to the transport hub. The design will allow for ease of pedestrian movement between the two anchors on site. In addition, a 25m wide bridge will be constructed across the widened Landbou road and the railway tracks onto a series of ramps which leads down to Stadium Avenue."

According to Leon, the pedestrian promenade bridge link has a height of around seven to eight metres. The platform also has to be large enough to accommodate an area where visitors can be searched, tickets checked and officials stationed near the gate area. "We used Civil Designer for the earthworks modeling. The program also handled all the calculations and became a real time saving asset when we had to update any changes. When you are working with architects and their intricate requests on how to add to the aesthetic appeal of a structure, you find the design changing at least ten times," says Leon with a grin.

Besides the architects who placed heavy demands on the civil engineers time, the steep ramp provided other challenges. "The ramp was between 10 and 15 metres wide and with more than 8500 square metres, we had to provide stormwater attenuation pond. The ramp was quite steep at 8% from the top of the bridge to the natural ground. I was responsible for designing the stormwater system in addition to the stormwater attenuation pond which was quite a challenge. After much thought, we were eventually able to provide an adequate strategy for the attenuation which met with the JRA's approval."
Goba | Development of Gauteng's Nasrec area

The second phase of the project involved the transportation hub which would house the taxi and bus rank. This required the widening of the existing road to make it a dual carriageway containing two lanes either side. "With existing water, sewer and stormwater services, the challenges were endless. We had to re-appoint the surveyor to do the survey. Fortunately, we had some of the original drawings in archive which saved us time. The first construction drawings were issued in July 2008, with excavation currently in progress," explains Leon.

The third phase forms part of the 2010 FIFA compliance which require all the roads around the stadium to be upgraded. "We made provision for 40mm overlay with sidewalks. Getting access to the stadium site while construction was in progress was however not that easy. We had problems with roads being closed due to construction which meant that we couldn't gain access to any of the existing manholes. Project delays like these placed even greater pressure on the project team."

Other challenges were experienced during the fourth phase of the project which involved setting aside adequate space for media, commercial affiliates, emergency services and broadcasting facilities. "The specification list for phase four was huge. The architects wanted a hard surfaced, relatively flat holding area. Cut and fill optimization in a 25 hectare area was therefore an interesting challenge," says Leon laughing.

The final phase of the project involved the construction of Golden Highway from Randshow road to Soweto Highway. The contractor has since been appointed and the first set of drawings issued. "As part of the precinct upgrading, a traffic study had to be conducted in order to assess whether the existing roads could cope with the anticipated traffic. This leg of the project was handled by our traffic engineering department and is an extremely important assessment. I found all five phases of the project to be challenging, exciting and stimulating all at once."

Leon is personally counting down the days to the 2010 Soccer World Cup where he can witness the thousands of spectators enjoying the promenade. "When I drive down the road towards the stadium's entrance I know that I will feel a sense of great pride. Working for Goba has also given me the confidence to tackle projects of this magnitude. To me, the countdown to the 2010 World Cup will be a personal victory in engineering excellence," says Leon in closing.

image Leon Mbongwa Leon studied his National Diploma in Civil Engineering at Mangosuthu Technikon and proceeded to complete his BTech in Urban and Transportation engineering at the Durban Institute of Technology. He has recently completed his BSc honours at the University of Pretoria and is currently enrolled for his Masters degree at the University of Stellenbosch. Leon has built up solid experience at companies like James Construction, GPA and eventually Goba Consulting Engineers where he is a Technologist. He is married to Mpumi and they have a 2 year old son, Monde.

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