HCMC renovates central area with more space to serve community

By the end of this year, the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien Metro Line No.1 will commence operations, and the Ben Thanh Station will serve as the central hub for other subway lines.
The skylight at Ben Thanh Station in the area of 23/9 Park in District 1, HCMC.

The skylight at Ben Thanh Station in the area of ​​23/9 Park in District 1, HCMC.

By the end of this year, the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien Metro Line No.1 will commence operations, and the Ben Thanh Station will serve as the central hub for other subway lines. Moreover, the streets of Le Loi, Nguyen Hue, and Ton Duc Thang in District 1 will be transformed into pedestrian walkways, parks, and gardens.

Restoring the road surface

After more than seven years of construction of the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien Metro Line No.1, the Management Authority for Urban Railways of Ho Chi Minh City (MAUR) has removed the barriers, restored the road surface, and handed over the entire Le Loi Street and 8,000 square meters of the 23/9 Park in District 1 to the HCMC Infrastructure Management Center. Pham Nguyen Huy, a 62-year-old resident of Ben Thanh Ward in District 1, expressed his excitement, stating that locals and tourists are pleased to have clean and spacious spaces for walking and relaxing. Meanwhile, Tran Nguyet Suong, the owner of a shophouse on Le Lai Street, shared that after the barriers were removed, traffic became more convenient, and business activities started bustling again.

Mr. Nguyen Trung Hieu, the Deputy Director of MAUR, has stated that at the request of the People's Committee of HCMC, the remaining barriers in the area of Ben Thanh central station must be removed by September 2 of this year. MAUR is actively working with the contractor to complete the construction as soon as possible. This is a special architectural highlight, symbolizing the Metro Line No.1. Currently, the station's skylight has been installed, and the entire exterior architecture has been completed, allowing locals and tourists to visit," said Mr. Nguyen Trung Hieu.

The skylight of the station is designed in the stylized image of a lotus flower, constructed from two main materials: insulating glass and honeycomb aluminum panels, with good weather resistance and soundproofing and insulation abilities. This structure also functions to provide light and ventilation to the area below the underground station, allowing metro passengers to have a direct view of Ben Thanh Market, or from above, to observe the station's activities below.

Utilizing space for the community

The entire central area of HCMC along the streets of Le Loi, Nguyen Hue, and Ton Duc Thang in District 1 is also undergoing planning for renovation to create spaces for community activities. Specifically, after the MAUR handed over the restored land, the People's Committee of HCMC instructed the People's Committee of District 1 to be the investor in the renovation of the Quach Thi Trang roundabout area (in front of Ben Thanh Market) as well as a part of the 23/9 Park. Currently, this area has been enhanced with greenery and potted plants along pedestrian walkways by the HCMC Infrastructure Management Center, while the Department of Transportation has temporarily separated and directed traffic while waiting for new renovation plans.

Mr. Vu Nguyen Quang Vinh, Vice Chairman of the District 1 People's Committee, has announced that the district has submitted a document to the Department of Planning and Investment requesting that the Quach Thi Trang roundabout and Le Loi Street renovation project be included in the mid-term public investment plan. The plan will be submitted to the HCMC People's Council for funding approval. Additionally, District 1 has recommended that the People's Committee of HCMC approve urban planning for the Le Loi Street area in order to attract commercial service investors and create a synchronized balance between business and social security.

The proposed plan will renovate the square in front of Ben Thanh Market with greenery on the traffic island, the statue location, and the open space layout of the square. Furthermore, the square in front of Ben Thanh Market will be seamlessly connected to other projects in the area, such as 23/9 ( Sep 23 rd ) Park and Le Loi Street, in accordance with the previously approved 930-hectare central area development plan by the HCMC People's Committee.

Regarding traffic arrangements, Mr. Bui Hoa An, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Transportation, has stated that Ton Duc Thang Street and the surrounding area of Bach Dang Park in District 1 will be renovated to include an underground parking lot while the surface will be designated for pedestrians. The underground parking lot will be situated approximately 100 meters South of Ngo Van Nam Street and Me Linh Square. There will be two separate lanes for entering and exiting the parking lot, which will not be directly connected to the underground section of Ton Duc Thang Street. Additionally, a sunken garden will be constructed in the middle of Me Linh Square, directly linked to the underground parking lot, with retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants to serve the community.

According to the urban renovation plan, a commercial center will be constructed beneath Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, connecting to the underground parking lot and other structures. The Department of Transportation is proposing to transform 22 roads in the central area into pedestrian streets, renovate intersections and sidewalks, adjust traffic to improve public transport connectivity and organize events to attract locals and serve tourists.

Urban renovation proposal to be resubmitted in June

Regarding the urban renovation of the city center, on May 8, the Office of the HCMC People's Committee announced that Mr. Phan Van Mai, Chairman of the municipal People's Committee, has instructed the Department of Construction to further study and supplement the proposal based on feedback from relevant units. The revised proposal will be reported to the Party Committee of the People's Committee for approval. The proposed options include planting flower pots or flower beds behind the statue of President Ho Chi Minh (in front of the People's Committee building) or planting flowering or non-flowering trees on both sides of the statue.

The Department of Planning and Architecture has been leading and collaborating with relevant units to develop a detailed planning scheme for the Bach Dang Wharf area based on the 1/2000 scale urban planning scheme of the existing central area of the city. The plan will include developing traffic orientation, planning above-ground space, and developing underground space. As part of the research process, the department will propose development plans for the area on both sides of the Saigon River, between Bach Dang Park and the river park square of the new Thu Thiem urban area. This will include proposing additional functions for ports, parking lots, and suitable public utilities. The proposal report will be submitted to the municipal People's Committee in June.

To alleviate traffic congestion and ensure pedestrian safety from Bach Dang Park to Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street, the Department of Planning and Architecture has been collaborating with relevant units to choose appropriate locations to propose a pedestrian bridge connecting Ton Duc Thang Street to Bach Dang Park. The proposed pedestrian bridge design will prioritize aesthetics, harmony, convenience, and safety and will enhance the landscape of the area. For the proposed additional positions of pedestrian tunnels connecting to Bach Dang Park and developing underground space in this area, relevant units will collaborate to study specific proposals during the process of developing the detailed planning scheme at a 1/500 scale for Bach Dang Park. Additionally, District 1 will collaborate on a proposal to create shade during the day to serve locals and tourists on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street and Bach Dang Park and will submit this proposal to the HCMC People's Committee in June.

The People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has approved the results of the Department of Transport's project on organizing pedestrian streets in the city center area. The project has incorporated feedback, updated implementation phases, and completed the draft plan's content to be submitted to the People's Committee before May 10.

District 1 is urgently incorporating feedback to update, supplement, and complete the research content of the project on receiving, managing, and exploiting the central area. It is necessary to clarify the need and legal basis for proposing a new management board for the city's central area, the scope of activities, positions, functions, tasks, powers, organizational structure, personnel, and financial autonomy level of the unit associated with the mechanism of generating revenue from economic activities to maintain and develop diversified cultural, artistic, and tourist activities, associated with the pedestrian street.

Regarding traffic management in the Ben Thanh Market area, the MAUR, the Department of Industry and Trade, and District 1 are collaborating with relevant units to promptly relocate two petrol stations located in front of Ben Thanh Market and return the land to the Department of Transport to organize traffic flow according to the overall landscape design plan for the area.

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