The renowned Halong Bay is just an hour and a half away from the capital city of starting Saturday. The Halong-Hai Phong Expressway, which opened Saturday after three years of construction, will also reduce travel time between Halong and the northern port city of Hai Phong from two hours to 30 minutes. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who attended the expressway’s opening ceremony, said the new expressway will promote connectivity in the Hanoi-Hai Phong-Halong triangle and open up opportunities for socio-economic development in the area. 

Built at a cost of VND13 trillion ($556 million), the 24.6-kilometer (15.3-mile) Halong-Hai Phong Expressway connects National Highway 18 in Ha Long’s Dai Yen Ward with the Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway in Hai Phong’s Hai An District. While most of the road was constructed using the state budget, the Hai Phong end of the expressway, including a VND7.27-trillion bridge across the Bach Dang River, was built using the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. The four-lane, 5.4-km long bridge, with a 3.5-km span above the river, is 25 meters wide. It is designed with three H-shaped towers representing Hanoi, Hai Phong and Halong. The Bach Dang Bridge was a breakthrough for Vietnam, is the first cable-stayed bridge made in the country.

Work on the Halong-Hai Phong Expressway began in September 2015 and was scheduled for completion last March, but was delayed twice. With its completion, the Hanoi Halong expressway commute has been reduced by 50 km to 130 km, and the Halong-Hai Phong route has been cut down from 75 km to just 25 km. The expressway is among a series of infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the tourism industry. Others include an international airport in Quang Ninh’s Van Don District and a new expressway between Halong and the proposed special economic zone in Van Don, both of which are scheduled for completion later this year. Quang Ninh welcomed 7.5 million travelers in the first half of 2018, including 2.46 million foreigners, up 14 percent from a year ago. Tourism revenues for the period rose 31 percent year-on-year to VND12.8 trillion ($546.7 million). Source: e.vnexpress.net

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