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concrete road

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THE CONCRETE ROAD FROM CALITZDORP TO OUDTSHOORN

The concrete road between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn is known locally as the ‘sementpad’  (cement road) and is  sometimes incorrectly claimed to be the first concrete road in the country.

Cement Rd Remhoogte kloof bridge

Cement Rd Remhoogte kloof bridge

The District Councils of Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp combined to construct the concrete road between the two towns. Oudtshoorn District Council undertook the construction of the first 15.5 miles (24.95 kilometers) from Oudtshoorn to the Calitzdorp district boundary between 1943 and 1946.

Calitzdorp District Council undertook the construction of the second section of the cement road between the Oudtshoorn district boundary and the crossing of the Gamka river at the foot of the Huisrivier Pass some eight kilometers west of Calitzdorp town.

This 19 mile (30.58 kilometre) long section was constructed between 1947 and 1954. Dates were etched at regular intervals in the concrete surface of the road

The concrete was laid to a thickness of 4½ inches (11.43 centimetres) over the entire contract of 34.5 Miles (55.53 kilometers).

NOT THE FIRST – BUT MAYBE THE LONGEST?

As can be seen on the archival list of the first concrete roads in the country presented below, it is shown not as the first – but probably the longest concrete road in South Africa at the time.

South Africa’s first recorded cement road was ¾ mile long (1.207 kilometers) on the South Coast Road at Isipingo, Natal. This was built by the Natal Provincial Administration in 1927.

(below)Archival list of South Africa’s first concrete roads

Click documents to enlarge –
Calitzdorp – Oudtshoorn road on second page – or page 3 here : Concrete roads in SA

Concrete archive List page 2 enhanced Concrete archive List page 3 enhanced

The historical documentation was provided by the Information Centre of the Concrete Institute of South Africa. The reports were done by the Portland Cement Institute which was one of the predecessors of the Concrete Institute.

Correspondence from the C & CI information Centre stated on 17 February 2015:

‘Unfortunately that list of roads does not include all the concrete roads in SA at that time, so there may have been other concrete roads that were longer’.

No further information has been found however, to refute the ‘longest at the time’ claim.

In the Portland Cement Institute’s Report of Concrete Roads Inspection dated April – May 1963, the Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp road was still considered – nine years after its completion – to be ‘one of the longest concrete roads in the country’.

 

Click documents to enlarge – or centre section here :  Concrete road Calitzdorp Oudtshoorn

Concrete riad inspection heading edited 1-1

As mentioned in the document heading above, this inspection report included numerous cement roads across the country. (Below) Relevant section of PCI Report of Concrete Roads Inspection dated April – May 1963

Concrete riad inspection part 2 edited 1-1

Concrete riad inspection part 3 edited 1-1

 

It is not known how long the Calitzdorp–Oudtshoorn concrete road held the title of ‘longest in the country’. When the new Rouite 62 road was built in 1976, a length of the concrete road from the Gamka river crossing right through Calitzdorp was lost to the construction of the new tar road.  Today the cement road starts at the viewpoint above the Gamka valley at the Calitzdorp Winery end of Andries Pretorius road.

 

The road runs along the fertile valley of the Olifants river and includes a number of bridges.

 

BRIDGES ON THE CALITZDORP SECTION

Remhoogte bridge shows no date

Remhoogte bridge shows no date

Remhoogte Kloof sign

Remhoogte Kloof sign almost illegible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Remhoogte Kloof bridge (above)shows no date
  • Breelaagte bridge is dated 1950.
Cement Road Breelaagte river date 1950

Breelaagte river bridge date 1950

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Dongaskloof bridge with its incredibly dilapidated and almost illegible sign (this is surely a museum piece!) is dated 1950 and there is also the date 3.11.50 inscribed in the concrete road surface at its base.
Cement road Dongaskloof amazing old sign!

Dongaskloof amazing old sign!

 

 3.11.50 etched in road surface Dongaskloof bridge

3.11.50 etched in road surface Dongaskloof bridge


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRIDGES ON THE OUDTSHOORN SECTION 

cement road 1942 bridge o'hrn end

Rietvlei bridge  1942 

 

 

  • Rietvlei bridge is clearly marked 1942

 

 

 

 

Cement road unnamed bridge o'h side

Wynandsrivier bridge

 

 

  • Wynands river bridge – the last bridge closest to the Oudtshoorn end, has writing on a rectangular slab at one end.

 

 

 

 

cement road Wynandsrivier plaque

‘cement’ road Wynandsrivier plaque

This is now almost illegible. It appears that what was probably a damaged or crumbling surface has been roughly plastered over with no regard for the lost inscription. What can still be seen in fancy print says ‘Wynand’srivier brug’ and some other odd letters and no visible date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY 2014 – THE END OF THE ROAD?

The concrete road today, despite much patching through the years, is in dire need of attention. In 2014 a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment document re rehabilitation and upgrading of the concrete road was hand delivered to affected residents.

Summarized in one paragraph the report stated that :

‘Divisional Road 1688 consists of a severely degraded concrete blockroad.
This road was identified to be upgraded to a surfaced road.’

The time frame concluded with :  ‘Commencement of activity  August 2014.’

This would mean the end of our historic sementpad.

It is now October 2017 and to date we can still bump along our historically interesting relic !!  There is no sign of workers or any effort to start the concrete road make-over. Yet.

 

HISTORICAL FIRST CONCRETE ROADS

Cement and concrete in varying forms have been known since ancient times, but the earliest recorded concrete roads were built in Austria in the 1850s in England in 1865.

America proudly boasts its oldest cement road (then called “artificial stone’) with a sign proclaiming World’s Oldest Concrete Street“. Built in 1891 on Court Avenue around the Logan County Court House in Bellefontaine in the MidWest, it is still visible for the length of one city block.