Four expressway expansions proposed one year after opening

By Anh Duy   August 22, 2023 | 06:39 am PT
Four expressway expansions proposed one year after opening
Aerial view of a Cao Bo-Mai Son expressway section in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Le Hoang
Plans to expand four expressway projects have been proposed just one year after their openings due to increasing levels of traffic and sluggish investment.

The Ninh Binh Department of Transport earlier this month proposed the Ministry of Transport consider expanding the Cao Bo-Mai Son Expressway.

The northern expressway, spanning 15.2 km, has four lanes and has been operating since February 2022. It connects to the Cau Gie-Ninh Binh and Mai Son-National Highway 45 expressways to create a continuous route from Hanoi to Thanh Hoa.

The department reported that the expressway project often sees congestion during peak periods like the holiday or tourism seasons. When accidents happen on the expressway, there is no emergency lane to provide support, it said.

As such, the department has proposed expanding the expressway by an extra 15.75 m, making sure there’s enough space for six lanes, including emergency lanes. The cost of the expansion is expected to reach VND2.076 trillion ($87.15 million).

Last week, the transport ministry also recommended to the government the widening of the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway to six lanes. The expressway has been in operation and collecting fees since August 2022.

The Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway in the Mekong Delta spans 51 km and has no emergency lanes, though there are 11 locations for emergency stops. But sometimes vehicles, especially container trucks, cannot reach such locations in time, making it unsafe for other vehicles and more difficult for rescue efforts. There are also no resting or gas stations on this road for cars to be re-fueled or maintained.

Around 23,000-25,000 vehicles use the expressway every day on average. The figure can reach 40,000 during peak holiday periods, while the project’s designed capacity is only 25,000 vehicles a day.

A representative of the BOT Trung Luong-My Thuan company said investment and construction for the expressway has been sluggish for the last 10 years, so much of it was already outdated once it entered operation in 2022. The result is congestion during rush hours, necessitating an expansion, according to the representative.

The company said the project would need around VND11.8 trillion for expansion into six lanes and two emergency lanes. Land clearance requirements have already been met for a six-lane expansion, the firm added.

The Cam Lo-Lam Son Expressway in the central provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue has also been proposed for expansion.

The expressway, part of the north-south expressway project, has been in operation since January 2023. In the first phase of the project, the 98 km-long expressway only has two lanes, and the road is only 12 m wide; save for certain sections with four lanes where the road spans 23m in width.

Once the expressway is fully completed, the entire expressway should have four lanes.

But the Quang Tri People’s Committee said, however, that half a year since the expressway’s opening, the number of vehicles on the route has been increasing continuously and drastically. To make sure that the expressway is in sync with the north-south expressway, which has four lanes, Quang Tri has proposed the government facilitate investment to make the expressway four lanes.

Connecting with the Cam Lo-Lam Son expressway is the two-lane La Son-Tuy Loan expressway in Thua Thien-Hue and Da Nang, which has been in operation since 2022. The road spans 12 m in width. The speed limit for vehicles on the road is 60 kph.

To ensure safety and increase the project’s capacity, the transport ministry is considering expanding the expressway to 23 m in width, allowing four lanes. The investment for the expansion would be around VND3.011 trillion, according to the HCMC Road Project management committee. If approved, the expansion would begin in June 2024 and be completed in 2025.

Tran Chung, head of the Vietnam Association of Road Systems Investors, said expressways are invested in phases due to limited funding sources. The first phases would usually entail only two or four lanes, and once enough funds are secured, the expressways are expanded in future phases.

However, due to miscalculations, the expressways have experienced overcapacity even a short time after being put into operation, necessitating the need for more rapid expansion.

"If the heightened amount of traffic in such a short time was accurately predicted, and the state could have organized investments properly, instead of resorting to investments in phases, which is more costly," he said.

go to top