HCMC traffic gateways remain congested due to delays of road widening projects

Because road widening projects have been  on paper for many years , the width of the existing western and eastern gateways of Ho Chi Minh City is not adequate for the traffic resulting in frequent traffic jams.

HCMC traffic gateways keep congested

The National Highway 1A’s section from Binh Tan District to Binh Chanh District is about 3km long but some bottlenecks are funneling large amounts of vehicles at a snail’s pace at the western gateway of Ho Chi Minh City, especially during holidays.

The nearly 10km long National Highway 1A through Binh Chanh District from An Lac to the border with Long An Province is the main gateway from the city to the Mekong Delta and is also a section connecting many major roads, so in addition to congestion due to the narrow road, this area always poses a high level of accident risk because there has not been a median strip between car and motorbike lanes.

More than 10 years ago, Ho Chi Minh City planned to expand the above road but the city delayed the project because of lack of capital. In 2012, the city's traffic industry proposed the upgrade of the 2.5km section from Tan Kien to Binh Thuan intersection to gradually remove congestion in the area after the Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong expressway was put into operation. However, this plan still remained on paper.

Three years later, the Infrastructure Development Investment Joint Stock Company (IDICO), the investor of the An Suong - An Lac BOT project, proposed adding the upgrade and expansion of the National Highway 1A section through Binh Chanh District to the contract. It is expected to expand the width of the section to 35 meters with a total investment of nearly VND1,900 billion (US$77,7 million), including site clearance. However, because the present regulations prohibit the application of the BOT (build - operate - transfer) form on the existing road, the project is at a standstill.

In the context that the national highway cannot be expanded, in 2016, the city implemented a road project connecting Vo Van Kiet Avenue through the Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong expressway in the form of BOT, with a total capital of more than VND 1,550 billion. The 2.7km long project helps drivers conveniently travel between the two roads instead of having to detour down National Highway 1A. However, when just over 10 percent of the construction project was carried out, the project had to be stopped because the investor, Yen Khanh Company, was incompetent and involved in a series of violations. Up to now, the project is in the middle of the way waiting for procedures to terminate the BOT contract.

Faced with urgent requirements, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has just proposed to expand 10km of National Highway 1A from An Lac to Long An along with 4 other projects in the form of BOT. Accordingly, this section will be expanded to 52 meters with an estimated cost of nearly VND 12,900 billion, of which site clearance is about VND 7,700 billion. Of the amount of nearly VND12,900 billion, 50 percent is taken from the state budget and the rest will be mobilized by investors. However, Deputy Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport Phan Cong Bang said that it is currently impossible to determine a specific timeline because it involves many legal procedures that need to be closely reviewed.

According to Director of the Transportation Works Construction Investment Project Management Authority of HCMC (TCIP) Luong Minh Phuc, in order to reduce traffic pressure on National Highway 1A and the Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong Expressway, the board is coordinating with the Investment Corporation. Vietnam Expressway Development Investment (VEC) pour investment into the Highway 50 intersection and Nguyen Van Tao intersection connecting to the Ben Luc - Long Thanh expressway with 6 lanes in synchronization with the project. The widening project of the Highway 50 is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024 and be completed in the third quarter of 2025.

The National Highway 13 is an important gateway of Ho Chi Minh City connecting with the Southeast provinces and Central Highlands, especially connecting with Binh Duong province - a locality with a fast pace of development. This route in Binh Duong is being expanded to 8 lanes meanwhile, the section through Ho Chi Minh City still has 4-6 lanes with poor urban landscape on both sides of the road, and many sections have no sidewalks. Every day thousands of vehicles still jam each other in and out of this gateway. The expansion of Highway 13 through Ho Chi Minh City encountered many difficulties due to many project adjustments. For more than two decades, the plan to expand Highway 13 is still on paper.

Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport Phan Cong Bang said that in the coming time, the project to upgrade and expand the National Highway 13 will be one of the projects which are high on the city’s list of priorities when the city applies the National Assembly’s Resolution ( the Resolution 98) to call for investment from socialized capital. With the Resolution 98, Ho Chi Minh City will gradually remove traffic bottlenecks at the city's gateway.

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