City awaits with eager anticipation opening of East West Highway

Thu Thiem Tunnel, the most important and complex structure of the East West Highway, is complete and the entire highway is ready for the official opening in Ho Chi Minh City on November 20.

Thu Thiem Tunnel entrance as viewed from District 2 (Photo: SGGP)

Every day, workers are seen rushing to clean up, cut grass and plant more trees along the highway in anticipation of the opening ceremony, after six long years of construction.

Tran Thanh Quang from Ward 13 in District 5, from where nearly 10,000 households have been relocated to clear site for the highway, said that residential areas formerly looked like slums along Ham Tu and Tran Van Kieu Streets. But now the highway will help ease traffic jams and create a clean landscape in the city. People had agreed to move to resettlement areas in new apartment blocks, where they now have better living conditions offered on preferential loans.

Luu Quang Tuu said his family and hundreds of others whose houses had been cleared for construction of the highway expressed happiness on seeing the modern road.

Former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai broke ground for building the East West Highway on January 31, 2005. After eight years of preparation and site clearance the highway is now complete.

He said that this is the biggest traffic construction undertaken in HCMC, stretching across districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, Binh Tan and Binh Chanh, as well as the first ever tunnel to be constructed under a river in Vietnam, majorly funded by Japan.

The road meanders along the former foul smelling Tau Hu-Ben Nghe Canal, which is now being cleaned up.

Thu Thiem Tunnel was the last and the most vital construction on the East West Highway and the longest tunnel built under a river, using advanced construction technology, in the Southeast Asian region.

The East West Highway reduces travel time from the west of the city to the east by 20 minutes. It helps to ease traffic pressure on inner city roads and on the Saigon Bridge. The highway also meets the demands of transporting cargo from the city ports to the eastern and western southern regions.

Travel test inside the Thu Thiem Tunnel (Photo: SGGP)

Particularly, Thu Thiem Tunnel connects the city center with District 2 where Thu Thiem new urban area is located.

Le Toan, deputy director of the Department of Transport says East West Highway is the main road linking Hanoi Highway and also an important section of the outer belt road system in the southern region.

Travelling from District 1 on the well lit Highway 1A to head towards the Mekong Delta provinces now takes half the time to ply, than on other inner roads like Hung Vuong, Tran Hung Dao and Kinh Duong Vuong.
 
Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the city People’s Committee said that all units and various departments involved in constructing this project had to meet and overcome difficulties and many challenges to complete the project ahead of schedule.
 
He expressed his gratitude to all the residents and relevant units who had contributed to the construction of the highway as well as the development of the city.

By staff writers – Translated by Hai Mien

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