HA NOI — The capital city's Department of Transport is promising prompt measures to ensure safety for vehicles on Thang Long Bridge as relevant agencies race to fix cracks on the bridge's surface which have caused a number of accidents.
The bridge has developed 32 major cracks which have created obstacles to smooth traffic flows and increased the risk of accidents, especially at night, said the deputy director of the department, Nguyen Xuan Tan.
Nearly 40 serious accidents, with 12 fatalities and many others injured, have occurred since January 2010, when the bridge cracks began appearing, said Lt Col Nguyen Ngoc Me, head of Traffic Police Unit 6. Many cars and motorbikes have damaged their tyres and wheels while travelling along the bridge, he noted, yet few accidents occurred on the bridge before this period.
Me called on relevant authorities to assign a team to inspect and repair the bridge as soon as possible, as well as reroute traffic flows around the hazards and reduce the speed limit.
Tan said the department would limit vehicle speed to 40km/hour and ban motorcycles from travelling on the second level of the bridge. He also said more officers would be assigned to supervise and reroute traffic as needed to ensure safety, and that warning signs and speed limit placards would also be placed.
The Viet Nam Road Administration, as the builder of the bridge, was also looking for partners to help develop a comprehensive project to repair the bridge and resolve any ongoing problems. The administration has also asked the Department of Road Management and Construction to supervise the repair work carried out by Bao Quan Investment and Construction Joint Stock Co, the project contractor, and hasten legal procedures to hand over operation of the bridge to the city.
The contractor recently started repairing an 1,800sq.m area of cracks in the cement on the road surface.
Thang Long Bridge was built with Russian assistance in 1985, crossing the Red River to connect Noi Bai Airport with downtown Ha Noi. Authorities spent roughly VND100 billion ($4.8 million) on resurfacing the bridge in 2009, but severe cracks have since appeared.
According to experts, one of the reasons for the poor quality of the road surface is that the rolling and pressing process of the stone mastic asphalt was below 120 degrees Celsius, negatively affecting the quality of surface. Rainwater draining systems also have not worked properly, also leading to stagnant water standing on and damaging the bridge's surface. — VNS