Don’t dismantle, preserve parts of historic rail bridge: Saigon culture department

By Huu Nguyen   May 23, 2019 | 06:00 am PT
Don’t dismantle, preserve parts of historic rail bridge: Saigon culture department
Binh Loi railway bridge spans across the Saigon River, May 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Doan
Some parts of the Binh Loi railway bridge built by the French in 1902 should be preserved, HCMC’s culture department proposes.

In a statement sent to the city's Department of Transport, the Department of Culture and Sports has said that the Binh Loi Bridge, which spans the Saigon River to link the districts of Binh Thanh and Thu Duc, has historic and cultural values.

It was not just part of the establishment and development of the city, but also Vietnam’s railway sector; and therefore, worthy of preservation.

The culture department has proposed keeping three parts of the bridge, including one of its spans, the starting point and a watchtower, to serve scientific research on the railway industry and to develop the city’s tourism industry.

Stretching 276 meters with six spans, Binh Loi was the first bridge to cross the Saigon River and part of the initial phase of the Saigon-Nha Trang railway line. It was built by Levallois-Perret, a construction company formed out of the former Maison Eiffel which was founded by the legendary engineer Gustave Eiffel.

After more than a hundred years of service, the bridge is in bad shape, and with bigger ships in use these days, an obstruction to their passage.

Considering its dilapidated condition and danger of collapse, HCMC and its industrial neighbor Binh Duong Province joined hands in 2015 to build a new bridge, which is scheduled to open in July. It stands just 12 meters (39 feet) away and rises seven meters above the water compared to the old bridge’s 1.8 meters.

The new bridge is part of a VND1.3 trillion ($55.7 million) project that includes dredging a 70km (43 miles) section of the Saigon River from Binh Loi Bridge to Ben Suc Port in Binh Duong.

A previous instruction from the Ministry of Transport had said that the old Binh Loi Bridge will be dismantled after the new bridge opens to traffic.

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