HCMC to upgrade traffic infrastructure for western area development

The traffic and construction planning of Ho Chi Minh City lists three major routes to link the downtown to the districts of Cu Chi and Hoc Mon, namely HCMC – Moc Bai Express Way, Metro Route No.2, and the route along Saigon River, plus Ring Road No.3 passing through Cu Chi District. The rational task for the municipal authorities to take on now is to build minor roads to connect neighborhoods to these main routes for convenient traffic and sustainable growth of the Western area.

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An Suong Intersection with its newly built underpasses to boost the development of Cu Chi District and Hoc Mon District. (Photo: SGGP)

Provincial Road No.9 – one of the main road passing through Binh My Commune of Cu Chi District – is now rather degraded and badly damaged. However, having no other choice, make container trucks still have to use it, leading to grave concerns among the local due to severe congestions and possible accidents each day.

65-year-old Nguyen Thi Nga, who lives on this road, commented that it is high time the authorities upgraded and expand the street, as well as quickly opening new ones connecting to this major road.

In general, the traffic infrastructure of Cu Chi District and Hoc Mon District at present is rather outdated compared to other parts of HCMC, with their major routes like Provincial Road No. 8, No. 15, No. 9 and National Way No.22 being degraded and damaged, while minor ones are mostly narrow, zigzag rural paths. Therefore, it takes nearly an hour to travel on a distance of 30km.

The most serious congestion hot spot now is An Suong Intersection. Lately, HCMC has upgraded it with underpasses, a new roundabout to create a three-layer intersection to address traffic jams.

"Investment in Cu Chi District is not only at district level but can have a long-term effect on the sustainable growth of HCMC as well. Hence, the planning task must be carefully done, taking into account the establishment of green spaces surrounding the area”, said Secretary of HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Van Nen in a meeting with leaders of the district in 2020.

The main reason why the above districts have such low traffic infrastructure is that this area belongs to the sub-urban development part of HCMC according to the master construction planning approved by the Government in 2010, and thus, unlike Thu Duc City and the Southern area, not receiving much budget for infrastructure upgrading.

For instance, An Suong Intersection upgrading project finished its first stage in 2002, but the next stage only completed 18 years later with the allocation of just VND200 billion (US$8.75 million).

The good news is these two districts still own a large land resource, which will obviously become the advantage to attract investments when being logically planned.

For example, Provincial Road No.8 after a proper upgrade will be the main route of Cu Chi District, linking the Southeast Industry Park (located next to Saigon River, Phu Cuong Bridge, Thu Dau Mot City of Binh Duong Province) to the Northwest Industrial Park (sited next to to Cu Chi Town), and to Duc Hoa-Duc Hue Industrial Cluster of Long An Province. This road intersects National Way No.22 to access Trang Bang Industrial Cluster in Tay Ninh Province. Obviously, the land on this important road will earn a large amount of money when being logically exploited.

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Dang Thuc Vinh Street became more modern after expansion. (Photo: SGGP)

Similarly, Dang Thuc Vinh Street in Hoc Mon District (otherwise known as Provincial Road No.9, intersecting National Way No.22) is on the way to complete expansion, with the allocation of VND700 billion ($30.6 million). It will be a 30-meter wide street to connect HCMC to the provinces of Binh Duong and Long An. It seems that residents are wholeheartedly welcoming this upgrade, as trading activities are bustling here, greatly contributing to the budget revenue of the localities.

Director of the Management Board for HCMC Traffic Construction Projects Luong Minh Phuc shared that the upgrades of main routes in the Northwest part of HCMC are gradually done to increase the traffic capacity for sustainable socio-economic development of the area in particular, and HCMC in general.

Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Head of the General Planning Management Division (under HCMC Planning and Architecture Department), suggested that the city should review its current land resources near major intersections and routes for more effective exploitation and rational development. Simultaneously, it is necessary to take into account infrastructure investment projects in management strategies for synchronization development.

For instance, the upgrades of routes along Saigon River must consider the roles of the Northwest service center. This is expected to easily attract investment via public-private partnerships. Tuan Chau Inc. in 2017 proposed to HCMC People’s Committee a design for the 64-kilometer street, beginning at Ben Suc Bridge of Cu Chi District and ending at the T-junction between Ton Duc Thang Street and Ham Nghi Street of District 1. It was estimated that the city can exploit around 15,000ha of unused land in the three districts of 12, Cu Chi, and Hoc Mon to form modern urban areas.