HUE — A recent plan to enlarge two ancient bridges in Hue to ease traffic congestion has been met with opposition from local experts who believe the solution could destroy the heritage.
|A bridge too far: The Kho Bridge which crosses the Ngu Ha River might be expanded to ease the traffic jams in Hue City. — File Photo
Under the plan, the 200-year-old Vinh Loi and Kho bridges crossing the Ngu Ha River in the Hue Citadel will be expanded to more than 10 meters wide, said Nguyen Dang Truong, deputy director of the Thua Thien Hue province's Traffic Investment and Construction board.
"The current stone bridge banister will be destroyed and more beton and brick will be added to expand the bridges," he adds.
The project has been submitted to 12 experts and researchers in Hue for approval.
"The best solution is to expand two sides of the old bridges while preserving their architecture to the best of our ability. If we built new bridges, there would be too many bridges crossing the Ngu Ha River. The panorama of the citadel would be destroyed," says Truong.
However, the plan doesn't please restoration experts.
According to researcher Mai Khac Ung, former manager of the research department of the Hue Relics Conservation Centre, expanding the bridges will ruin the whole relic because this expansion will lead to the reconstruction of the citadel's road as well as its entrance gates, as all architecture in the citadel is united.
According to some local inhabitants, traffic jams in Hue are not too pressing an issue for the city to destroy its heritage. There are five bridges crossing the Ngu Ha River. Traffic jams have never occurred at three of those five bridges, even in rush hour. At the Vinh Loi and Kho bridges, traffic jams only occur occasionally and each time last about 20 to 30 minutes. For some local inhabitants, the best way to ease traffic in the area would be separating the traffic flows, since the congestion is usually caused by large vehicles getting stuck and unable to find their way out. In fact, when the jam occurs, vehicles will move to the other three bridges on the river.
"Why do we have to destroy the relic to ease traffic congestion? We should lower population density in the citadel or limit the number of vehicles travelling in the city," he added.
"Preserving means keeping intact. Enlarging the old bridge is not preserving it. When the shape of the bridge disappears, it means that the vestige is destroyed", Ung adds.
Professor Hoang Dao Kinh also expressed his opposition to the plan.
"The bridges are rare and are among the most precious heritage of Hue. If the situation is not urgent, we shouldn't renovate the bridges because we risk losing the heritage. If it's important to ease traffic, the best solution should be building new bridges," he said.
For his part, Phan Van Tuan, deputy director of the Hue Relics Conservation Centre, bridge expansion is the lowest priority.
He proposed three other solutions that he finds better: decrease the population density in the citadel area, ease traffic on roads and entrances at the location, build a new bridge and separate traffic flow. — VNS