Da Nang green-lights Vietnam’s second river tunnel despite cost concerns

By Nguyen Dong   December 28, 2016 | 11:03 am GMT+7
Da Nang green-lights Vietnam’s second river tunnel despite cost concerns
The Han River in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

The city will add the $206 million tunnel to its network of ten bridges.

After debating the utility of the project, Da Nang's municipal government announced it will build a tunnel beneath the Han river.

City authorities have debated the wisdom of the VND4.7 trillion ($206.5 million) project multiple times during the past year. Despite opposition, the city's top leaders decided to green-light construction.

Le Van Trung, director of Da Nang’s transport department, said around 210 houses along the river will be cleared to make way for the tunnel.

The Bridge and Tunnel Engineering Consultants Co., a Hanoi-based unit of the Ministry of Transport, will oversee the three-year project, which is scheduled to start in 2018.

The company said the tunnel will span over 1,300 meters (900 of which will be underwater) from Dong Da-Tran Phu intersection to Van Don Street, connecting Hai Chau and Son Tra Districts.

Ten bridges, each separated by roughly a kilometer, currently crisscross Da Nang's intracoastal waterway, linking the urban downtown to the town's long, beachy barrier penninsula. 

City authorities had all agreed on the need for an additional crossing, but debated whether it should be a bridge or a tunnel.

Trung described the tunnel as preferable because it would spare the scenery and provide a convenient crossing option during the storm season.

Urban planning experts have complained the project represents a major waste of money as it will only directly serve around 150,000 families commuting between the districts.

Opponents of the tunnel argued a bridge would be much cheaper both to build and maintain.

Once finished, the Han River Tunnel will be the second-largest in Vietnam, after the Saigon River Tunnel in Ho Chi Minh City, which opened to traffic in 2011 as the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

During a meeting held earlier this month, officials in Da Nang complained that high-rise buildings have brought extreme density to the city's central district, putting huge pressure on transportation infrastructure.

The city’s current population of 1.1 million is projected to increase to 2.5 million by 2030.

Vehicle registration grows by between 8-12 percent annually and city authorities have already registered 800,000 motorbikes and 60,000 cars.

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