Long Biên Bridge to be examined before major maintenance: Transport ministry

June, 06/2022 - 09:19
Following the recent case of deterioration on Long Biên Bridge, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) has required authorities to perform maintenance, repair potholes and put up notices to inform people of the current state of the bridge. 
Long Biên Bridge in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Following the recent case of deterioration of the historic Long Biên Bridge in Hà Nội, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) requires authorities to perform maintenance, repair potholes and put up notices to inform people of the current state of the bridge. 

Lê Hoàng Minh, head of the MoT department of transport infrastructure, said that in the immediate future, funding would be prioritised for repairing the road on the bridge. In the long run, however, a thorough maintenance plan was required.

He added that as per the 2022 plan, the MoT would start an overall quality inspection of the bridge to form a comprehensive solution.

An overhaul of the bridge will require much funding, said Minh. For example, repainting the entire bridge alone costs VNĐ70 billion (US$3 million).

Maintenance work on the bridge currently uses the limited non-business expenditure of the railway sector. 

With over 120 years in operation, it is classified as a weak bridge. It still sees dozens of trains and tens of thousands of pedestrians and passengers using bicycles and motorbikes every day.

Last Saturday, the road section on the French colonisation-era bridge was closed to repair a large pothole that appeared following major rainfall in Hà Nội.    

The large pothole that appeared on Long Biên Bridge last Saturday is now repaired. — VNA/VNS Photo

After the incident, Việt Nam Railways issued an urgent dispatch asking relevant departments to take action to ensure railway and road transportation on the bridge.

Tạ Quang Sơn, deputy director of Hà Hải Railway Joint Stock Company - the unit in charge of maintenance work for the bridge, said that the company performs maintenance on the railway section four times each year, mainly consists of removing rust, repainting, replacing railway sleepers and screws, and cleaning work. 

Meanwhile, with a modest budget, the road section has only seen old concrete panels replaced, potholes patched, and several damaged iron railings repaired.

“With that limited budget, however, the company has prioritised funding for urgent maintenance work and increased human resources for road inspection to promptly repair damaged sections, ensuring safety for people and vehicles crossing the bridge,” said Sơn.

According to Vũ Quang Khôi, director of Việt Nam Railway Authority, following the incident on Saturday, the authority and MoT department of transport infrastructure, Việt Nam Railways, and Hà Hải Railway Joint Stock Company directly examined the state of the bridge. 

Inspection revealed that road traffic safety and order on the bridge were complicated. 

Khôi said: “Although at the two ends of the bridge there is signage that said the bridge is weak, and that cars and heavy motorbikes, and bicycles are banned on the bridge from 5am to 8pm, there are still a large number of vehicles on the bridge, especially during rush hours. Those include heavy-loaded motorbikes and tricycles.”

Long Biên Bridge is part of the Hà Nội - Đồng Đăng railway route, measuring 1691.15 metres. Construction started in 1899 and finished in 1902. 

Việt Nam Railway Authority has recently submitted a draft railway network plan for the 2021 - 2030 period to the MoT. 

In the plan, the authority proposed not to use Long Biên Bridge as a connecting point in the national railway system and instead will build a rail line in the east of Hà Nội. — VNS

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