HCMC plans footbridge over Saigon River as cultural landmark

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A 360 meter long footbridge planned over the Saigon River is envisioned as a cultural landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, the VnExpress newswire quoted an official as saying Friday.


The footbridge, which will connect Dong Khoi Street in District 1 and a yet-to-be-built public square in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, will be S-shaped and have characteristics of the bamboo - an iconic symbol of Vietnam, said Trang Bao Son, deputy chief of the urban area's investment and construction management board.


He said the footbridge will have stopovers where people can admire the scenery. It would also be a vantage point for viewing cultural events and security measures are being studied to prevent overcrowding and other mishaps.


Municipal authorities have assigned a joint-venture of three companies - Bac Viet Development Ltd. Co., Dang Co Investment Services Joint-stock Co., and Indochina Capital Corporation - to carry out a feasibility study for the project.


The project is expected to be submitted to the HCMC People's Committee for approval this September, Son said.


Another bridge connecting between Binh Thanh District and Thu Thiem will be studied after the square has been built, he added.


The HCMC People's Committee considers it a highlight of the Thu Thiem Area as well as the city as a whole, Son was quoted as saying in the newswire.


However, several experts disagree.


Hoang Duc Hau of the Vietnam Bridge and Road Association doubted if people would use the bridge, considering that several footbridges in Hanoi and HCMC have been abandoned or rarely used, as Vietnamese don't have the habit of walking.


Furthermore, the proposed bridge is much longer than the current ones which are just ten meters long, he said.


So far, no survey done to determine actual demand for people to walk between districts 1 and 2 is available, Hau said.


Le Quang Ninh of the HCMC Architects' Association also expressed disagreement with the project concept.


Bridges and roads must serve transportation needs of people and vehicles as a priority, so it's wasteful to spend hundreds of millions dollars building a bridge for pedestrians, Ninh said.


The city's traffic is in need of many projects which are much more practical and urgent, the architect added.


Ninh also echoed doubts about the bridge being used by Vietnamese citizens not prone to walk between destinations.


Dr. Tran Dinh Ba of the Vietnam Economic Association agreed with Ninh, saying such footbridges are only suitable for developed countries. HCMC still faces many problems related to people's welfare that need to be addressed first, he said.


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