Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City are considering a plan to install roofs over suitable parts of the walkways of Le Loi Boulevard in District 1 at a cost of up to US$1.27 million to protect pedestrians from sunshine and rain.
The municipal Department of Planning and Architecture recently submitted its scheme to the city’s administration aiming to improve the shopping road that was reopened last August after being closed for years due to the construction of the city’s first metro.
As the large trees once located alongside the sidewalks were removed for the metro project, a roof system over them should be built to shield walkers and shoppers from the elements, according to the department.
Accordingly, the Le Loi sidewalks with an average of 5.5 - 6 meters on each side will have a roof reaching out four meters, a departmental representative told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Not only do they help block sunlight and rain, the future roofs can also create a lively cityscape for this trade route, the representative said.
Roof materials will be beautiful, sustainable, and cost-effective, ensuring harmony with the general landscape of the area, the department said.
Le Loi is a commercial and service road, often as a stopover for domestic and foreign tourists, and a 'bridge' between some key landmarks of the city such as Ben Thanh Market, Municipal Theater, and Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street.
Running between the opera house and the market, the boulevard is a venue for commercial, service, shopping and tourism activities, so a roof is needed as a utility for guests who shop or visit there, the department said.
As there is no way to re-plant trees large and thick enough in a short time to shade the sidewalks, the current solution is to build roofs to create a convenient walking space, the department explained.
On the other hand, the underground part of the road now accommodates a metro line along with commercial facilities, so it is necessary to mull planting suitable trees on the surface.
Large trees need ample land for their roots to develop fully, so planting them to create shade may affect the technical infrastructure of the metro line.
However, the department made it clear that such roofs would not be built throughout Le Loi, but only on some suitable sections of the boulevard, leaving the other parts for planting small and short trees or flower beds.
According to surveys, there are now only two areas that can be covered with roofs: the section from Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street to Pasteur Street and another from Phan Boi Chau Street to Nguyen Trung Truc Street, with a total length of the roofing being around 150 meters, the department said.
The initial expenditure for the roof system is estimated at VND20-30 billion ($850,000-1.27 million), including the cost of materials, labor, construction, and others.
This amount can be sourced from the local budget and from contributions by relevant businesses which will benefit from the roofs.
The roofing will not only replace the displaced trees to create shade but also give rise to cozy, friendly, and safe spaces for pedestrians and travelers, the agency said.
Besides, they will facilitate business activities on both sidewalks, creating a lively commercial and shopping space along the street.
With this design, the city will have a route that features both green space and a roof to prevent rain and sunshine, the department said.
If the plan is approved, the roofs will be artistically designed and installed for use in the long run, the department said, adding that specific designs will depend on the budget for them.
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