Vietnam has broken ground on a multimillion-dollar project to build an expressway that will halve travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to a point in Tien Giang Province, where there is a suspension bridge considered to be one of the Mekong Delta’s hallmarks.
Work began Saturday on the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway that is estimated to cost VND14.678 trillion (US$672.8 million).
The expressway is designed to be 54km long, running from Trung Luong in Tien Giang to My Thuan, also in the province, according to the project’s manager, which is the Cuu Long Corporation For Investment, Development And Project Management of Infrastructure.
The road will be completed after four years in the form of BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer).
In the BOT framework, the developer receives a concession from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct and operate a facility for a certain period, during which it has to raise the finances for, and is entitled to retain all revenues generated by, the project. The facility will be then transferred to the public administration at the end of the concession agreement.
The road will be invested by a consortium comprising six firms: Tuan Loc Construction Investment Joint Stock Company; Yen Khanh Production, Trading and Service Co. Ltd.; BMT Construction Investment Joint Stock Company; Thang Loi Group Co. Ltd.; Hoang An Joint Stock Company; and CII Bridge and Road Investment Joint Stock Company.
Upon completion, the expressway will have a width of 13.75 meters for four lanes, including two – about 2.5 meters in width each – for vehicles traveling at 80 kph and the other two – 2.75 meters wide each – for those running at 40 kph.
Thirty-eight bridges and five flyovers will be constructed on the road.
The expressway is expected to be opened to traffic in December 2018, and it will take only one hour for vehicles to reach My Thuan from Ho Chi Minh City then.
Currently, drivers have to spend two hours traveling from the city to My Thuan on National Highway 1.
In My Thuan, which is 125km from Ho Chi Minh City, there is an eponymous suspension bridge that links Tien Giang to Vinh Long Provinces.
Regarded as an icon in the Mekong Delta, My Thuan Suspension Bridge was inaugurated on May 21, 2000 after three years of construction at a cost of VND935 billion ($42.8 million), with assistance from Australia.
The investors of the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will recoup their investment by collecting fees from vehicles for 20 years.
Upon completion, the expressway will be connected to the 61.9km Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong motorway, which was opened to traffic over four years ago.