Unclear signboards have caused many drivers to mistakenly enter Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway, causing long traffic jams on its opening day.
Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway, an extension to HCMC – Trung Luong, the only expressway connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta, opened to traffic Tuesday.
The 51-kilometer (32 miles) extension passes through five districts of the delta’s Tien Giang Province starting at Than Cuu Nghia Intersection in Chau Thanh where HCMC – Trung Luong Expressway ends, and going up to National Highway 30 at An Thai Trung Intersection in Cai Be District.
However, at around 7 a.m., a one-kilometer tailback of traffic had already been formed at the intersection leading from HCMC – Trung Luong Expressway to Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway.
One of the drivers, Nguyen Ngoc Hung, 37, said he was driving along HCMC – Trung Luong Expressway toward Ben Tre Province in Mekong Delta.
When he was about to reach Than Cuu Nghia Intersection, he wanted to head to National Highway 1A to continue his trip to Ben Tre but due to the confusing signboards, he entered Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway.
Once on Trung Luong – My Thuan, he had to drive 30 kilometers to reach the nearest exit.
“Many drivers made the same mistake as I did,” Hung said.
As a result, congestion occurred and lasted for almost two hours Tuesday morning, even after police showed up to disperse traffic.
According to the Traffic Police Department in Tien Giang Province, signboards have failed to inform drivers that if they drive straight ahead, they would enter Trung Luong – My Thuan and in order to hit National Highway 1A, they must cross an overpass to reach Than Cuu Nghia Intersection.
Authorities said they would fix the signboards soon to avoid further confusion.
A traffic police officer guides a driver to circulate traffic and ease congestion on the Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway, January 25, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam
Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway shortens the travel time from the city to Tien Giang Province by 75 minutes to one hour and 45 minutes.
It has 39 bridges and 14 overpasses in total, six emergency stops in each direction, and no emergency lanes.
BOT Trung Luong – My Thuan JSC, the expressway’s builder, said financial difficulties are the main reason the route has yet to have an emergency lane.
With construction started 13 years ago, the project had had to change investors twice, delay four times, and had its initial investment revised down to VND12 trillion ($528 million) from VND14 trillion after the government decided to adjust the investment scale following the replacement of the investor.
According to the Ministry of Transport, Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway is the first to be invested under the public-private partnership format in southern Vietnam.
Due to financial problems, the project was divided into two phases.
In the first phase, it would have four lanes and no emergency stops, it said.
For the next phase, the expressway would be expanded on both sides to reach a scale of six lanes, with an emergency stop lane. However, this period has not been determined since it depends on traffic volume in the first period.
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