Parking lots to save Da Lat from gridlock

By Khanh Huong, Phuoc Tuan   February 1, 2021 | 03:59 pm PT
Parking lots to save Da Lat from gridlock
Traffic jam in downtown Da Lat in April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
The green light has been given to build two parking lots to prevent spontaneous parking in Vietnam’s resort town of Da Lat.

As approved by authorities in the Central Highlands' Lam Dong Province, the two parking lots in Da Lat will span 75 hectares (185 acres) in total near the town’s major entry points.

One will be located near the end of southern Prenn Pass next to National Highway 20. As planned, it will spread over 38.2 hectares.

The other lot will be at the eastern Darahoa crossroad next to National Highway 27 C, covering 36.6 hectares.

The two parking lots are expected to cost around VND1.2 billion ($52,000) each, standing around 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the town center.

Da Lat, dubbed Vietnam's Little Paris, is one of the most attractive tourist hotspots in the country thanks to its cool weather, fresh air and scenic landscape.

Yet due to a serious lack of parking lots, buses and cars have for years run straight into town and parked along major routes to drop off tourists, causing traffic jams.

The only Vietnamese city without traffic lights, Da Lat has been suffering more and more serious downtown traffic gridlocks, especially during the weekends or holidays, when tourists often flock to the location.

Now with the latest plan, it is expected that buses and private cars would park on the town’s outskirts and passengers use public transport to reach the town.

Last month, Lam Dong offered a grand prize of VND1 billion ($43,346) to whoever provides the best solution to traffic congestion in Da Lat in a competition lasting until 2025 with a vision to 2035.

Participants are limited to within Vietnam. The committee would pick out the five best ideas to resolve traffic congestion, before choosing a feasible grand prize winner.

Ideas must outline methods to resolve traffic congestion while effectively utilizing Da Lat’s available land plots for infrastructure. The deadline falls on April 14.

In 2018, Da Lat already proposed a seven-story public parking space downtown, and considered banning coaches with over 45 seats from entering the heart of the city. But so far, none of these plans have come to fruition.

The town formerly planned a parking lot in Trai Mai, an area around nine kilometers from Da Lat’s heart and another on Thu Khoa Huan Street right at its center but so far, these projects have remained on paper.

The town was originally designed to accommodate around 90,000 people back in the early 20th century, but its population has now ballooned to nearly 230,000 while receiving around seven million visitors a year, experts said.

Lam Dong served 7.16 million visitors in 2019, up 10 percent against 2018, including 6.3 million visiting Da Lat alone.

Last year, under the impact of the pandemic, the volume of tourists to Lam Dong remained at more than 2.6 million in the first 10 months, dropping over 53 percent against the same period in 2019.

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