The following article from the official Ho Chi Minh City website delivers the bad news:
HCM City and South Koreaâs GS Engineering & Construction have signed a memorandum of understanding on the project of building the elevated road No. 1 along the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal.
The director of the Department of Communication and Public Works Tran Quang Phuong and GS E&C vice president Lee Hwi Sung signed the MoU on December 6 with the witness of HCM City Chairman Le Hoang Quan and South Korean consul general Min Young Woo.
Accordingly, the South Korean firm will build the elevated road running through districts 1, 3, Tan Binh, Phu Nhuan and Binh Thanh under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) form.
The 10.8 km long, 17.6 m wide road will have a maximum design speed of 80 km per hour and total capital of VND4.7 trillion. Construction will take four years to complete.
A seminar will be held in mid-December to define the direction and design plan of the road.
Speaking at the signing, the cityâs Vice Chairman Nguyen Huu Tin said this is one of the fourth elevated roads HCM City will build in the coming years to improve its transport capacity and reduce traffic jam.
He asked the Department of Communication and Public Works and relevant agencies to cooperate with GS E&C to carry out the next steps of the project.
(HCM City, December 7, 2007)
The Nhiêu Lộc-Thị Nghè Canal winds through the city from the airport area to north of downtown, emptying into the Saigon River. Here is a photograph of the twisty canal as it passes between District 3 and the Phú Nhuận District:
(HCM City, December 7, 2007)
Can you imagine an elevated freeway running down the middle of the canal, or at the side of the canal above the parkway along the canal? In a city where the people decry the lack of park space, this is a ludicrous idea to put an elevated freeway along one of the few parkways in the city. Now I know there will be those who say the canal is a filthy mess, and they will be somewhat right at this point, but the canal does have a construction project underway to clean up sewage drainage into the canal and clean it up. The canal could become a very pleasant parkway for the people. Here is a photograph of the local fire brigade exercising one recent morning along the canal:
The new freeway would run right under the window of our friend Jon Hoff of the The final word blog and the founder of the Connections travel service. His apartment is in the high-rise tower in the photo below:
The route proposed by the city government is shown in red on the map below.
Does it make sense to design a freeway with a dozen sharp curves along its length? Why not build the freeway along the alternate route shown in blue -- right down the middle of Nguyễn Văn Trỗi and Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa Streets straight to downtown. This is analogous to the same situation faced in Shanghai in the early 1990s between its old airport and the city center -- they had sense enough to build their elevated freeway straight along the main street from the airport to downtown.
This decision by the HCMC government is unfortunately just the latest misjudgement regarding planning for the city. So how does one raise questions about these decisions to the government here?