Experts support North-South Expressway project
Several transport experts have thrown their support behind construction of the North-South Expressway despite public concerns over its huge cost, saying the road would play a vital role in north-south transport in the long run, especially in the absence of a high-speed railway.
After the Ministry of Transport submitted the pre-feasibility study of the project to the Government with estimated capital of VND314.1 trillion (US$13.7 billion) last week, the public and some experts have deemed the project as unnecessary.
They said National Highway 1A had been widened with four lanes, in addition to railway and sea routes and Ho Chi Minh Road connecting the two ends of the nation.
However, some other experts said the project will play a vital role in the long run.
Nguyen Van Thu, former director of the Institute of Transport Planning and Management, told the Daily that National Highway 1A is forecast to become overloaded in the next few years, given the fast increasing number of vehicles. Railway lines are in poor condition while sea routes take a lot of time to travel.
If the expressway is developed, it will facilitate goods transport between the north and south, saving a huge amount of time and money, he said.
Transport expert Pham Sanh shared Thu’s view, saying that heavy congestion often grinds traffic to a standstill on many national highways.
He said some sections of the planned expressway should be developed first, especially in regions with heavy traffic and where traffic accidents often occur.
Besides, the Government should invest in expressways for Hanoi-Vinh, HCMC-Nha Trang and Trung Luong-Can Tho sections because of their necessity and feasibility.
Such opinions are voiced as the Government is expected to convene a meeting on March 15 to discuss whether or not to develop the North-South Expressway.
The North-South Expressway is expected to stretch 1,372 kilometers, beginning at the Cao Bo Intersection in the northern province of Nam Dinh and ending at the Dau Giay Intersection in the southern province of Dong Nai, according to the pre-feasibility study.
The project requires total capital of VND314.1 trillion, with around VND96.6 trillion (US$4.2 billion) sourced from the State budget.
The transport ministry has floated three options.
Under the first option, three sections will be built first, namely Cao Bo (Nam Dinh)-Vinh (Nghe An), Cam Lo (Quang Tri)-Tuy Loan (Hue), and Phan Thiet (Binh Thuan)-Dau Giay (Dong Nai), stretching a combined length of 467 kilometers, with VND41.4 trillion (US$1.8 billion) funded by the State budget.
In the second option, over 910 kilometers of the expressway will be constructed, including sections of Cao Bo-Van Ninh (Quang Binh), Cam Lo-Tuy Loan, Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa)-Dau Giay. The Government will provide VND63 trillion (US$2.7 billion).
For the third option, the State budget will offer VND70 trillion (US$3.06 billion) to invest in 1,015 kilometers consisting of Cao Bo-Van Ninh, and Tuy Hoa (Phu Yen)-Dau Giay sections.
The ministry has suggested the Government selecting the first option in order to meet transport demand and balance the State funding for other key transport infrastructure projects.