Overpasses unlikely to help clear Vietnam's roads

TN News

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Heavy traffic is seen on and under an overpass at the Cong Hoa Hoang Hoa Tham intersection in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City / PHOTO COURTESY OF SGTT

At a government meeting to discuss traffic in the country's major cities September 9, Deputy Construction Minister Nguyen Dinh Toan had said local authorities were "pleased" with overpasses as a solution to traffic congestion.

But, without long-term solutions, the problem would return in the next two-three years, he warned.

Toan's prediction has, unfortunately, come true earlier than expected.

Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Wednesday that since two overpasses at the Cong Hoa Hoang Hoa Tham intersection and the Lang Cha Ca roundabout were opened to traffic recently in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, the traffic flow at those points has improved.

It quoted Pham Duc Nhuan, a local resident, as saying that it now takes him less than five minutes to travel the two kilometers between the two spots whereas it used to take one hour in the past due to traffic.

But he complained that traffic at nearby places has worsened.

The newspaper's correspondent took more than half hour to travel a 300-meter stretch between Cong Hoa Ngo Be and Cong Hoa Le Tan Quoc crossroads on October 11.

The two overpasses over in Tan Binh cost VND370 billion (US$17.5 million), and are among five the city has built since last year end in congested junctions.

One more is currently being built in District 6 at a cost of over VND456 billion, and a seventh will be built at VND354 billion ($16.7 million).

Dr. Nguyen Huu Nguyen of the South Vietnam Economic Studies Center told Saigon Tiep Thi that when an overpass is built at an intersection, it eases traffic there, allowing vehicles to move faster. But it also means that more vehicles gather quickly at the next junction, causing gridlock, he pointed out.

Thus, overall, the problem is not resolved, he added.

The same problem was also reported in Hanoi, where authorities spent nearly VND2 trillion ($94.6 million) on building seven overpasses since last year and six of them have opened to traffic already.

Online newspaper VnMedia reported last month that they are none too useful, with those at the Lang Ha Le Van Luong, and Lang Nguyen Chi Thanh intersections, for instance, only helping ease traffic at the crossroads and nearby junctions remaining congested during rush hour.

It quoted Dao Ngoc Nghiem, vice chairman of Hanoi Association for Architecture, Urban and Rural Planning, as saying that the overpasses fail to connect with nearby routes leading to traffic jams there.

Dinh Thi Thanh Binh, chief of the Institute of Transport Planning and Management at the University of Transport and Communications, is on record as saying that steel overpasses, like most construction works in Vietnam, are being built in a hurry and without a general zoning plan.

In the meantime traffic congestion shifts at another place if they are lessened in one, she said.

If the authorities had done careful studies, they would have known where to build the overpasses and thus avoided waste, she said.

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