Southern hub opens major bridges to traffic

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Transport authorities in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday opened parts of two major bridges expected to ease traffic congestion significantly.


The new Rach Chiec Bridge, connecting Districts 2 and 9, had its subordinate two-lane bridges open to traffic on Saturday, each 295 meters long and six meters high above the Rach Chiec River.


Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said at the opening ceremony that the parts were finished nearly four months ahead of schedule and that set an example for the city government and the Transport Ministry when a large number of constructions are dragging on nationwide.


Work on the main six-lane bridge that is 735 meters long began the same day, and is expected to finish in 2013. The whole project costs more than VND1 trillion (US$51.3 million).


"This is a major project with big meaning, a boost to the city's socio-economic development as well as the southern region,  easing traffic jams in the northeast of the city," Hai said.


He said the new Rach Chiec Bridge will also facilitate transport to and from the country's biggest port, Cat Lai.


Problems on the bridge will result in traffic gridlocks on Hanoi Highway connecting the city with major southern industrial zones, and broken connections to Cat Lai Port, which will cause losses of several billion dongs every day, the deputy PM estimated.


Also on Saturday, the city administration celebrated completion of the Thu Thiem Bridge project by opening a 150-meter lane connecting District 2 and Ngo Tat To Street in Binh Thanh District.


Tran Quang Phuong, director of HCMC Transport Department, said the bridge was the latest construction crossing the Saigon River that connects the city center with the new urban area on Thu Thiem peninsula.


Nguyen Thanh Tai, vice chairman of the city People's Committee, said at the opening ceremony that the peninsula has attracted many investors thanks to the Thu Thiem Bridge and investors are expected to start new constructions there in the first quarter of next year.


The VND1.45 trillion bridge received a gold medal from the Transport Ministry as a high quality infrastructure project in 2010. Work on the bridge had begun five years ago.


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