Limited opening of HCMC-Mekong Delta expressway to help ease Tet overload

By Hoang Nam   December 2, 2020 | 05:03 pm PT
Limited opening of HCMC-Mekong Delta expressway to help ease Tet overload
A bulldozer and a road roller operate at the construction site of the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway, November 30, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam.
The portion being built to extend the only expressway between HCMC and the Mekong Delta will open to traffic during the Lunar New Year early in 2021.

The Trung Luong-My Thuan extension of the HCMC-Trung Luong expressway running up to the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang – the new portion goes up the province’s border with Dong Thap – will open to cars and vans with fewer than 16 seats and trucks weighing less than 2.5 tons for five days before and after Tet, which peaks on February 12.

The 51-km (32 miles) extension passes through five districts, starting at the Than Cuu Nghia Intersection in Chau Thanh District where the existing expressway ends and going up to National Highway 30 at the An Thai Trung Intersection in Cai Be District.

Some 73 percent of it has been built, with the Trung Luong-My Thuan BOT JSC, the private investor of the build-operate-transfer project, deploying more than 1,500 workers and over 1,000 machines to ensure it is ready for use by Tet.

It has promised to do all it can to ensure the construction, which has taken a decade so far, will be completed next year.

Le Van Huong, chairman of Tien Giang Province, said the expressway would help ease the gridlock on National Highway 1A, a routine occurrence during the Lunar New Year.

It is a common sight to see a sea of humanity on the highway during the festival, as people go home from HCMC and the nearby industrial provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai to the delta before Tet and return to work afterward.

National Highways 1A and 50 are the only links between HCMC and the delta, which is home to around 20 million people, or a fifth of Vietnam’s population.

Work on the expressway began in 2009.

Initially expected to cost VND14 trillion ($606 million) and be completed in 2013, it has been plagued by delays as the main investor has been changed several times, with some of them lacking the resources needed for the work.

Last year the cost was revised to VND12 trillion and the government said the work had to be completed by 2021.

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