Top officials at the opening ceremony included Viet Nam Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Secretary of Dong Thap Provincial Party Committee Le Minh Hoan, Viet Nam Transport Minister Nguyen Van The, and Country Director Eric Sidgwick of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Viet Nam. Photo: ADB Viet Nam Resident Mission.
Viet Nam officially opened the 2.4-kilometer Cao Lanh Friendship Bridge and connecting roads in Dong Thap province on 27 May. Crossing the Tien branch of the Mekong River, the bridge is expected to reduce travel time for some 170,000 road users daily.
Top officials attended the opening ceremony. They included Viet Nam Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Secretary of Dong Thap Provincial Party Committee Le Minh Hoan, Viet Nam Transport Minister Nguyen Van The, and Country Director Eric Sidgwick of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Viet Nam.
The Government of Australia and ADB provided financing for the bridge and more than 25 km of connecting roads as part of the Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project.
The project is building a section of the Second Southern Highway, which will connect Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta and southern coastal regions. The Mekong Delta is a key economic region in Viet Nam, producing more than 60% of the country’s agricultural and fishery outputs and its third largest industrial center.
The government is developing the highway as an alternative to Viet Nam’s National Highway 1A. It will provide access to the Mekong Delta's southwestern provinces, particularly An Giang, Can Tho, and Dong Thap, and support their economic and industrial development. The highway will also link to the Greater Mekong Subregion’s Southern Coastal Corridor at Rach Gia City, which connects to highway networks in Cambodia and Thailand.
The Second Southern Highway is currently constrained by ferry crossings at Cao Lanh and Vam Cong, which are slow and cause delays to traffic. The Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project will help solve this problem with the construction of two cable-stayed bridges, one in Cao Lanh and Vam Cong, and associated access and interconnecting roads.
The project is expected to cut travel time between Ho Chi Minh City and Long Xuyen from 3.5 hours to 2.5 hours. Travel time between Cao Lanh-Vam Cong ferry landings should fall from 1.5 hours to 30 minutes, while the travel distance from Cao Lanh to Long Xuyen will be reduced from 35.4 km to 29 km once the entire project is completed.
The Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project is estimated to cost $860 million. The Cao Lanh bridge and roads were supported by grant financing from the Australian government and a loan from ADB. Parallel financing from the Export-Import Bank of Korea will be used to construct the Vam Cong Bridge and its associated road works.
“Beyond the improvement of physical connectivity, the Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project is expected to bring inclusive development to areas that are poorly connected to major population centers, and improve access to basic social and health services,” said Eric Sidgwick, ADB’s country director for Viet Nam. “Better connectivity will not only reduce travel time and cost for residents of the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Can Tho and Dong Thap, but bring more business opportunities and better living conditions.”