airport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar
Sign In
Cape Town's unfinished freeway
Cape Town's unfinished freeway | © Meraj Chhaya / Flickr
Save to wishlist

Cape Town's Bizarre Hanging Freeways to Be Completed 40 Years Later

Picture of Andrew Thompson
Updated: 26 March 2018
If you’ve ventured into downtown Cape Town, you’ll have noticed the bizarre sight of two aerial double-lane freeways hanging precariously above a bustling street. Now, 40 years on, the city has finally approved a plan to complete these freeways, and to incorporate housing and other new features between them.

To the uninformed, Cape Town’s unfinished freeways look something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, or possibly the result of a severe earthquake. The truth is neither, and though the stuff of mystery and legend, they’ve been a firm fixture of the city’s skyline for four decades. Though filmmakers have often used the feature as a unique movie setting, complete with iconic Cape Town backdrop, they’ve served little other purpose.

6863682978_75d9e08fca_k
Cape Town’s unfinished freeway | © Meraj Chhaya / Flickr

Until 2017, that is, when the City of Cape Town announced that they were to open up the bidding process for the completion of the structures. A slew of proposals came in, including a range of proposals, from parks similar to New York’s High Line, to high-end apartments and even a St Louis-style Gateway Arch.

Now, the city has announced the winning bid that will finally see the bizarre hanging freeways completed. Between the finished roads, the winning bidder will build 3,200 high-end housing units, 450 affordable housing units, a public park and other features that aim to improve the standard of those living in the city’s Foreshore region.

567019079_d2d88e6439_b
Cape Town’s unfinished freeway from ground level | © Joe Ross / Flickr

The winning bid is not without controversy, though. In 2017, it was alleged that the tender process had been problematic. And after the announcement of the winning bid that includes just 450 affordable units, some have laughed off the city’s claim that this will offer any meaningful number of housing units aimed at the less well-off.

DV1A9oNX4AACHki
Artist’s impression of finished development | © Brett Heron

Others have expressed concerns about the new buildings interfering with views of the iconic Table Mountain. The city has attempted to allay these fears, stating, ‘It is proposed that the market-related residential units be located in 11 new tower blocks with heights ranging between 63m, 123m and 143m with views of the mountain, sea and harbour.’

Regardless of whether or not residents approve of the winning bid, it’s clear that upon completion, the city’s skyline will never again be the same again, and a bizarre part of South African history will forever be confined to the archives.

DV1A9oHX4AAKjv7
Artist’s impression of finished development | © Brett Herron