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Budget cuts puts Thang Long Bridge at risk

Update: January, 21/2015 - 08:30
Cracks on the surface of Thang Long Bridge have been temporarily repaired. More funding is needed to ensure safety on the bridge. — VNA/VNS Photo Bui Tuong

HA NOI (VNS) — More money is needed to ensure safety for Thang Long Bridge, the company in charge of the bridge's maintenance told the Ministry of Transport following a recent budget cut.

Ha Thai Railroad Co., Ltd. said it receive only VND20.8 billion (US$990,500) to maintain the 30-year-old bridge in 2015, a significant decrease from the VND24.7 billion (US$1.17 million) budget it had in previous years.

"We could barely temporarily guarantee the bridge's safety with the previous budget, let alone with the limited one this year. In the meantime, more and more breakages and cracks are being found at the bridge's expansion joints," said company director Nguyen Ba Thuc.

"It will be very difficult for the company to maintain the bridge with the lower budget."

In addition to scheduled fixes, several urgent repairs were made after sudden breakages took place at the bridge's expansion joints, added Thuc.

The bridge's expansions joints on the car lanes' surface require a major overhaul, the first since the bridge opened to traffic in 1985.

Thuc said that his company submitted a proposal for a major overhaul at the expansion joints in 2010.

An urgent message signed by Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang yesterday asked the Viet Nam Railway Corporation to replace the expansion joints on the bridge's car lanes following assessments showing that parts of the joints were broken beyond repair.

However, the specific parts needing to be replaced are no longer being produced, as they date back to the Soviet Union time. Therefore, the whole joint must be replaced.

Cracks on Thang Long Bridge's surface remain a problem even though VND97 billion ($4.6 million) was spent to fix the surface in 2009, later followed by three long repairs: one from March 2010 to September 2011, the second from January 2012 to May 2012 and the third from July to August 2012.

Thang Long Bridge was built with the former Soviet Union assistance to connect Noi Bai International Airport with downtown Ha Noi. — VNS

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