Key Mekong Delta roads widened to cope with Tet rush

By Hoang Nam   December 2, 2019 | 09:00 pm PT
Key Mekong Delta roads widened to cope with Tet rush
A sea of people travel back to HCMC from the Mekong Delta on February 10, 2019, the last day of the previous Lunar New Year holiday. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Two highways linking Saigon with the Mekong Delta are being widened in preparation for the mass migration expected during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.

Work has got underway on several sections of National Highways 1A and 60 that run through Long An, Tien Giang and Ben Tre Provinces in the delta.

Four bridges are set to be widened on National Highway 1A in Tien Giang.

Construction is more or less finished at the Ruou Bridge in Chau Thanh District, and workers are now laying the road.

Huynh Thanh Son, a truck driver, said National Highway 1A - which runs around 100 kilometers (62 miles) through Tien Giang Province - has always been a nightmare for drivers, especially during weekends and holidays like the Lunar New Year (Tet), when people return home to the Mekong Delta from Saigon or its neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, which are home to many industrial parks.

"The highway has six lanes, including four for automobiles, while the Ruou Bridge has only two lanes and it is easy to understand it becomes a bottleneck during heavy traffic. Normally it takes two hours to travel through Tien Giang, but during holidays it takes double that time."

Three other bridges, Sao, My Quy and Rach Mieu have the same problem and are also being widened.

Besides, National Highway 1A has deteriorated at many places in Tien Giang.

Nguyen Thi Lan, a local resident, asked ruefully, "What kind of national highway is full of potholes, lacks traffic lights and drains and has water stagnating, posing the threat of accidents?"

Tran Thanh Nam, deputy head of the Ministry of Transport's Regional Road Management Unit No.4, said the ministry has earmarked more than VND300 billion ($13 million) for upgrading the highway in Tien Giang and widening the four bridges.

Two thirds of the amount would be required to widen the bridges from 12.5 meters to 20.5 meters and add four lanes, he said.

Cao Van Phong, a Ben Tre Province traffic safety committee official, said after almost two years work to widen National Highway 60 in the province at a cost of over VND1.7 trillion ($73.2 million) is nearing completion and would be ready.

A 22-kilometer stretch is being widened to up to 21 meters with six lanes.

There's currently only one expressway connecting HCMC and the Mekong Delta, the two economic hubs of southern Vietnam. The Trung Luong expressway, opened in 2010 to ease regular holiday congestion on National Highway 1A, connects to the highway in Tien Giang. 

It is a common sight to see a sea of humanity returning home to the Mekong Delta before Tet and back to HCMC and neighboring provinces after the holiday.

The 2020 Tet will be a seven-day national holiday starting on January 23.

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