VietNamNet Bridge – management agencies are alarmed at the seriously degraded condition of Saigon Bridge, which is 50 years old and gets ‘tired’ after “carrying” 41,000 cars and hundreds of thousands of motorbikes every day.
Saigon Bridge serves as the eastern gateway of HCM City. Yet holes, accidents, structural damage and also its age have weakened the vital link that connects districts and rural towns to the city, as reported by Tuoi Tre.
According to the HCM City Bridge Work Management Company, traffic is too heavy on the bridge, vehicles exceed load limits of 25 tons and they cannot force vehicles to run 30 meters apart from each other as currently stipulated.
“In traffic jams, you can see long queues of trucks and container vehicles from the city’s ports idling on the bridge,” said Vu Tien Dat, Deputy Director of the HCM City Bridge Work Management Company.
“This shortens the life expectancy of the bridge,” he added.
Vu Kien Thiet, Director of the Urban Transport Management Centre No 2, agreed that Saigon Bridge has been rapidly crumbling because of the overweight vehicles and heavy traffic.
Thiet said that upon discovering a hole in early October, his centre is now joining forces with Freyssinet, a company that once upgraded the bridge, to check the bridge’s “health.”
He went on to explain that government agencies need to allocate capital soon for upgrades. “It would be better to fix the troubles sooner rather than later, or else we will lose more money when the bridge becomes more seriously damaged,” Thiet urged.
Transportation officials believe that the Saigon 2 Bridge should be built soon to ease the pressure on Saigon bridge.
Nguyen Thanh Thai, General Director of BOT Phu My Bridge Company, which has been awarded the contract to build Saigon 2 Bridge by the HCM City authorities, said that it is awaiting government agencies to sign the BOT (build-operation-transfer) contract on building the bridge.
Thai said that the construction of the bridge will kick off in late 2009 at the earliest and that the work will take 2.5 years. This means that Saigon Bridge must still withstand the current heavy traffic pressure on its own for a few more years.
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