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120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

By Ngoc Thanh   June 26, 2022 | 05:10 pm PT
Hanoi's historic and iconic Long Bien Bridge is not only bearing the wear and tear of time, but also of thousands of vehicles that use it every day.
120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

Starting early in the morning, long lines of vehicles can be seen crossing the Red River on the Long Bien Bridge that connects Hoan Kiem and Long Bien districts.

With some holes spotted on the bridge last month, barricades have been erected on either ends since last Wednesday as a safety measure, preventing certain heavyweight vehicles from using it.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

The Hanoi Railways company, which manages the bridge, iron pipes and plastic dividers at one end of the bridge to separate two-wheeler traffic into two lanes and reduce congestion. With thousands traveling from Long Bien District to downtown areas of Hanoi in the morning for work, traffic jams ensue.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

The Long Bien Bridge currently serves three national rail routes: the Hanoi-Hai Phong, Hanoi-Dong Dang and Hanoi-Lao Cai. Its road section is reserved for bicycles and motorbikes.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

The main bridge is 2,290 m long, with 20 supporting pillars and 896 m of roads leading onto it.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

The bridge, constructed by the French from 1899 to 1902, was damaged during wartime. It later underwent several rounds of repairs and reinforcement.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

It has been showing signs of wear and tear for some time now. The rails that separate the rail tracks from the road have been damaged in several sections.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

The wooden sleepers of the railway track are rotting but haven’t been replaced. As another safety measure, trains cannot travel at more than 15 kph when crossing the bridge.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

In several places, iron plates have been used to cover road cracks.

As the bridge continues to bear the wear and tear of time, there have been debates on preserving the bridge as a historic relic, converting it into a living museum or renovating it to ensure safety, but no conclusion has been reached to date.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

During rush hours in the morning and afternoon, two-wheeler traffic slows down to a crawl and the bridge bears the weight of thousands of vehicles.

120-year-old Hanoi bridge burdened by time, heavy traffic

Maintenance work is done on the bridge every day.

An official of the Hanoi Department of Transport, who did not want to be named, said the national railway would stop using the Long Bien Bridge and have trains come to a stop in the Ngoc Hoi area. Hanoi would also work with the Ministry of Transport to plan a new bridge replacing the Long Bien Bridge, the official said.

 
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