Investment hiccup strips main Mekong Delta highway of emergency lane

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The Trung Luong – My Thuan highway was inaugurated on Wednesday before being officially opened to traffic on January 25.

The route joins the HCMV – Trung Luong expressway in Chau Thanh district of Tien Giang province and passes through five of the province’s districts to join National Highway 30. Since opening to traffic in 2010, HCMV – Trung Luong is the only highway connecting the delta, home to around 20 million people, with the rest of the nation.

With the commissioning of Trung Luong – My Thuan, the travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to Tien Giang will be shortened from 75 minutes to one hour and 45 minutes.

However, the extension, which is 51 kilometers (32 miles) long and 16 meters wide with 39 bridges and 14 viaducts in total, has no emergency lanes.

For now, there are only six emergency stops in each direction.

Chu Cong Minh, a doctor specializing in traffic infrastructure at HCMC University of Technology under Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City, said the emergency lane is normally on the far right from the highway.

This lane is usually narrower than other lanes to allow vehicles having difficulty to stop immediately and thus reduce traffic jams and accidents. It also functions as a priority lane for ambulances, fire trucks and the police.

Minh said emergency stops on the road cannot replace the emergency lane.

For example, in the event that a car crashes at a position away from the emergency stops, the one behind it would likely also become crash-prone.

The incident will also cause a long traffic jam, making it even more difficult to solve the initial problem since ambulances and rescue workers could not arrive on the scene in time.

“Once in service, the Trung Luong – My Thuan expressway will frequently experience high traffic density given its important position as a blood route linking HCMC and the Mekong Delta. severe traffic jams,” he said.

BOT Trung Luong – My Thuan JSC, the constructor of the expressway, said financial difficulty is the main reason why the route does not yet have an emergency lane.

With construction starting 13 years ago, the project had to change investors twice, be delayed four times and its initial investment was revised down to VND12 trillion ($528 million) from VND14 trillion. VND after the government decided to adjust the scale of investment following the replacement of the investor.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the Trung Luong – My Thuan expressway is the first to be invested under a public-private partnership in southern Vietnam.

Due to financial problems, the project is divided into two phases.

In the first phase, there will be four lanes and no emergency stops, he said.

For the next phase, the highway will be widened on both sides to a six-lane ladder, with an emergency stop lane. However, this period has not been determined since it depends on the traffic volume of the previous period.

Currently, several other expressway projects are also in the same position, with their investment process divided into different phases and operating without emergency lanes, including the Cao Bo – Mai Son expressway in northern China. Ninh Binh province, he added.

Phan Van Thang, vice president of Deo Ca Group, which stepped in as the lead investor in the project in 2019, said when the company took over, it was 10 percent complete.

The company therefore continued to work on the existing project and chose a new contractor.

“If we had worked on the project from the start, we would have offered to have the hard-stop lane,” he said.

Tien Giang transportation department director Tran Van Bon said that in addition to six emergency stops, the route has four intersections and troubled vehicles will be removed from the expressway at the closest intersection. closer.

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