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Update on Mekong bridges

posted Sep 5, 2011, 6:40 PM by Dong Travel   [ updated Sep 5, 2011, 6:43 PM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh ]
Thailand’s Highways Department reported, last week, on the status of construction on two important bridges that will span the Mekong River and help to boost trade and tourism between Thailand and Laos as well as fill the missing gaps in overland routes to Vietnam and China.

Construction of the Third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, across the Mekong River, at a site 8 km north of Nakhon Phanom’s town centre, will be ready to open 11 November.

Work on the fourth Mekong Bridge at Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai province that will cross the Mekong River to link Huay Xai in Laos has been delayed with a revised deadline set for mid 2013.

In Nakhon Phanom province, the Highway Department’s bridge construction bureau confirmed work on the third bridge and support roads, both in Thailand and Laos, were now 97% complete and ahead of schedule.

Once open, heavy goods vehicles and oil tankers will by-pass Nakhon Phanom entirely, which should ease traffic in the centre of this riverside town. Commercial vehicles need to queue along the town riverside boulevard road waiting to board ferries, causing traffic congestion.

The foundation stones on both sides of the river were laid 26 May 2009. The bridge will span 1,423 metres with a road width of 13 metres.

After it opens in November, it will link Nakhon Phanom to Tha Khaek in Khammouan province, Laos and should boost trade and tourism between Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and southern part of China.

It is an important link in encouraging overland tourism and trade and is part of the Asian Development Bank’s East-West corridor project that envisages a road link from Myanmar passing through Thailand and Laos to Vietnam’s central region.

Most of the route in Thailand is on highway 12 that meets a new road leading to the bridge about 8 km north of Nakhon Phanom.

Once across the river, a service road links with highway 13 in Laos, north of Tha Khaek. At present, tankers and commercial vehicles use a ferry that crosses from the town centre of Nakhon Phanom to Tha Khaek.

The downtown ferries will continue to transfer passengers, while all commercial vehicles and busses will use the bridge once it opens.

Meanwhile, the fourth Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge, at Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai provinces is facing delays. The Highway Department is expected to extend the construction contract for six months due to the delay transferring Chinese government funds of US$22,407,661.065. The bridge should be ready mid- 2013.

The bridge is around 25% finished but running 17% behind schedule. Once open, it will connect Chiang Kong in Chiang Rai province to Huay Xai in Bokeo province, Laos.

This will be main overland route from China, transiting Laos and connecting with highways in Chiang Rai province to Chiang Mai, Lamphang, Phrae and Phitsanulok all the way to Bangkok.

Originally, it should have been completed by 10 December 2012.

The first friendship bridge is located at the border between Thailand and Laos at Nong Khai and connects to the main highway to Vientiane in Laos, while the second bridge at Mukdaharn links Suvannaket in Laos and the east-west highway that crosses the country to Vietnam’s central region.

Source: TTRW