The national parliament last Wednesday greenlighted the establishment of a city within a city in Ho Chi Minh City called Thu Duc.
Thu Duc City will be formed, starting January 1, by merging three eastern districts – 2, 9 and Thu Duc. It will span 211 square kilometers and house more than a million people. Some of its highlight features will be the high-tech park in District 9, the university precinct in Thu Duc, and the new urban area and financial center on the Thu Thiem Peninsula in District 2.
The new city will propel HCMC’s plan to turn itself into a smart city, an idea which has been on the anvil since 2017.
It is also expected that Thu Duc City will contribute 30 percent of HCMC’s gross regional domestic product and 7 percent of the country’s GDP.
A key factor to realizing these ambitious targets is the traffic system for the new city, which is deemed inadequate at this moment, only meeting 30 percent of the demand.
In this context, at least eight major projects gain added importance, given their potential to help transform the area’s traffic situation in the coming years.
First metro line
The first of the projects targeted for expedited work is the 19.7-km Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien route, the city’s first metro line. The VND43.7 trillion ($1.89 billion) route runs through Thu Duc City along the Hanoi Highway.
The metro route No.1 will have 14 stations – 11 on elevated sections and three underground.
A train car shipped from Japan is placed on HCMC’s first metro track at the Long Binh Depot in HCMC’s District 9, October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Work on the much-delayed project, which began in August 2012, is more than 78 percent complete now. The city hopes to complete 85 percent this year and begin commercial operations by the end of next year.
Once the metro line begins operations, it is expected to carry a large number of passengers from Thu Duc City and the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai to the city center.
Ring Road 2
The Ring Road 2 runs for more than 64 km with three sections passing through districts 9 and Thu Duc. Under this project, work is ongoing on a 3-km long section from Pham Van Dong Street to the Go Dua intersection in Thu Duc District. This section will have total investment of more than VND2.5 trillion. Work will also be speeded up on two other 6-km sections of the ring road – from Phu Huu Bridge to Hanoi Highway, and from the Binh Thai intersection to Pham Van Dong Street. This subproject will have a total investment of VND14.6 trillion.
Once complete, it is expected to help reduce traffic pressure, increase the capacity of goods transportation at major ports and connect with the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway that runs to Dong Nai Province, an industrial hub.
Ring Road 3
The HCMC’s Ring Road 3 project has a total length of 89.3 km that runs through the southern metropolis and the southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Long An.
The project is divided into four sections. Construction on one of them, the 18-kilometer-long Tan Van-Nhon Trach section passing Thu Duc City, is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of next year with a total investment of over VND9 trillion.
The bigger project, with a total investment of VND55.81 trillion, is expected to reduce congestion in the inner city and boost inter-provincial transport services.
The Ring Road 3 is a key national project that seeks to boost regional connections and socioeconomic development in HCMC and the southern key economic zone as a whole. It is expected to ease traffic in downtown HCMC and connect it with the provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Long An, Dong Nai and Tay Ninh.
Hanoi Highway expansion
A project to expand the Hanoi Highway, which began in 2010 with a total investment of over VND4.9 trillion, is now 80 percent complete.
This is an arterial axis connecting Thu Duc City with downtown HCMC and the industrial provinces of Dong Nai and Binh Duong. Once complete, the project is expected to increase the capacity of goods transportation through local ports and connect with both the first metro line and the new Mien Dong (Eastern) bus station.
My Thuy Intersection
Started in June 2016, this VND2.2 trillion ($95 million) project at the intersection of Ring Road 2, Nguyen Thi Dinh and Dong Van Cong streets in District 2 is expected to help ease congestion outside the Cat Lai Port, the largest one in Vietnam, and increase traffic connectivity between districts 2,7 and 9 and the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway.
However, only 45 percent of the project is complete owing to lack of land.
An Phu Intersection
Three kilometers from the My Thuy Intersection is the An Phu Intersection in District 2, where authorities have proposed to build a two-way tunnel with a first phase investment of VND1.04 trillion.
On completion, the tunnel and the widening of the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, a major link between the city and neighboring Dong Nai Province, are expected to considerably ease congestion and increase connectivity between HCMC, Dong Nai, Ba Ria – Vung Tau and other southern provinces. The project is yet to begin implementation.
At present, the An Phu intersection, which connects Mai Chi Tho Street in District 2 and the expressway, is a site of frequent traffic jams.
Thu Thiem Bridge 2
The new bridge connecting the central District 1 with District 2 is expected to ease the strain on the Thu Thiem Tunnel and boost the development of District 2’s Thu Thiem New Urban Area.
The bridge will start at the intersection between Ton Duc Thang and Le Duan streets before crossing the Saigon River and ending at Thu Thiem’s new Crescent Boulevard.
Built under the build-transfer model with a total investment of nearly VND3.1 trillion, the cable-stayed bridge will be nearly 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) long with six lanes.
The project is now 70 percent complete, but it is being delayed because nearly 13,000 square meters of land in District 1 has not yet been handed over.
New Mien Dong bus terminal
The new four-storied Mien Dong bus terminal covering 16 ha (40 acres) in District 9 and nearby Binh Duong Province’s Di An Town was put into operation on October 10.
During its first phase, the station will serve 71 routes spanning over 1,100 km (683 miles) each, carrying passengers between the city and the central and northern regions. These routes have all been transferred from the old station in Binh Thanh District, which will remain operational until work at the new terminal is completed in full.
Construction of the bus station, which started in April 2017, is budgeted at VND4 trillion ($173 million), with the first phase costing VND740 billion.
The new Mien Dong Bus Terminal in HCMC takes shape, October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Once complete, the new station, funded by the state-owned Saigon Transportation Mechanical Corporation, will be three times the size of the existing one, which is already the biggest bus station in Vietnam, and have the capacity to serve seven million passengers a year.
Phan Cong Bang, deputy director of the municipal Department of Transport, told VnExpress Thursday that in addition to existing projects, several others will be invested in towards increasing connectivity for the new city.
Among these will be three expansion projects on Nguyen Duy Trinh Street connecting Districts 2 and 9, allowing cars to move in and out of the Phu Huu Port area.
Other streets set to be expanded include La Xuan Oai, Do Xuan Hop, Lien Phuong, Hoang Huu Nam, Le Van Viet and Bung Ong Thoan in District 9. Some of these projects are facing land clearance difficulties.
Traffic experts have said that as a smart city in the making, Thu Duc needs upgraded infrastructure networks that will enable residents to travel easily from home to public transport systems.
Following the construction of Metro line No. 1 and the new Mien Dong Bus Station, it is necessary to build a bus rapid transit (BRT) system to link Thu Duc City with Di An Town in Binh Duong Province and Bien Hoa Town in Dong Nai Province, Le Trung Tinh, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Association of Intercity Passenger Transport and Tourism, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper.
HCMC needs VND300 trillion ($12.92 billion) over the next 10 years to build transport infrastructure for its Thu Duc City under a recent plan proposed by the municipal transport department. The major transport infrastructure projects earmarked for the new city includes roads, metro routes, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, waterways and ports.
About VND83 trillion, or nearly 28 percent of the proposed investment, will come from the city’s budget, and the remaining from the central government, private firms, Official Development Assistance loans and other sources.
The department also envisages the installation of a smart transportation system comprising cameras, signal lights and a digital database.
It also targets that in the next 10 years, public transportation will meet 50-60 percent of the transport demand of the city’s residents.
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