An inactive toll station in front of the Saigon River Tunnel will bite the dust as part of the efforts to ameliorate increasingly serious gridlock at the facility.
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has allowed the municipal Department of Transport to disassemble the tollgate of the Thu Thiem Tunnel.
The tunnel goes under the Saigon River to connect District 1 and District 2. The inactive toll station is situated at the entrance in District 2.
Costs to pull down the tollgate will be covered by the annual maintenance fund of the transport department.
The removal is expected to be complete within the first quarter of 2018.
The Department of Transport had asked the committee for permission to clear the toll station before in order to provide more space for vehicles.
Equipment that is still usable after the disassembly will be utilized for other purposes designated by the department.
The Thu Thiem Tunnel toll station was built in 2011, while toll collection was scheduled to begin in 2012.
However, the tollgate has remained inactive since its construction after the state implemented regulations on road use fees, which terminate the collection of tolls at projects funded by the state budget.
The removal is intended to ease traffic jams that have recently become quite common at the tunnel during rush hour.
Gridlock occurs mainly in the motorcycle lanes at both entrances due to a large number of commuters.
Traffic police officers once had to temporarily stop cars from entering the tunnel to make way for motorcycles.
According to statistics of the Management Center of the Saigon River Tunnel in November, the number of cars and motorbikes at the tunnel increased 2.9 million and nine million, respectively, compared to the same period of last year.
District 1 and District 2 are separated by the Saigon River and only connected by the Thu Thiem Tunnel.
The construction of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge linking the two districts was initiated in February 2015 with a capital investment of VND4.26 trillion (US$187.6 million).
It is originally expected to be completed in 2018 but may be delayed until 2019 because of a slow site clearance process.