Traffic congestion is a challenge leading to undesirable consequences in most of the cities of the world. Many large and medium cities of South Africa, specifically the central business districts (CBD) are facing this challenge and are severely affected by this mobility problem. One such city, Kimberley, because of its unique physical, spatial, road network, economic characteristics and requirement of the mobility of heavy vehicles in addition to the normal city traffic faces typical traffic congestion challenges in its CBD area, particularly during the peak hours, which warranted this investigation. So, the objective of this paper is two-fold. First, it examines the various relevant empirical models available and their implication on the assessment of traffic congestion in CBDs under different scenarios. Second, it evaluates the degree of traffic congestion (Level of Service (LOS)) in the roads of CBD area and explores a possible mechanism to ease the problem. The study was conducted based on the critical review of relevant literature to understand the control variables influencing traffic congestion, and examination of the applicability of relevant empirical models for assessing traffic congestion. Followed by the most relevant empirical models were employed to assess the level of traffic congestion and observe possible solutions to ease the traffic congestion in the roads of the CBD area of the Kimberley City. The study revealed that there is appreciable level of traffic congestion in some of the roads of the CBD area of the Kimberley City, specifically during the peak hours, which needs strategic intervention. A reengineering solution, such as, traffic diversion from the congested roads to the underutilised or least congested roads could assist in easing the traffic congestion, increase in speed and reduction in travel time resulting into optimal utilisation of all the roads in the CBD area of the city.
Paper presented at the 34th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 6-9 July 2015 "Working Together to Deliver - Sakha Sonke", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.