A number of decades-old trees along a street in Ho Chi Minh City’s center are slated to be either cut or relocated to make way for a bridge construction, the municipal transport department said Wednesday.
Ton Duc Thang, running along the Saigon River, is one of the greenest streets in Ho Chi Minh City, with rows of green trees lining its pavement, some of which are said to be more than 100 years old.
However, 258 of those trees are set to be chopped down or relocated to make space for the construction of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge, Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the city’s transport department, said at a meeting on Wednesday.
Of the affected trees, 115 will be relocated to the Nong Lam University in Thu Duc District, and the remaining 143 will be felled, Cuong elaborated.
The Ho Chi Minh City administration has requested that only unhealthy trees or those that may not survive the relocation be cut down, according to the transport department director.
“Consequently, of the 143 trees set to be chopped down, 125 are ancient,” he added.
One of the oldest trees on Ton Duc Thang Street
With previous tree-cutting projects having sparked negative reactions from the public, Cuong reassured that the tree removal will take place in several iterations aligned with the progress of the bridge construction, rather than all at once.
The first 63 trees will be cut down or relocated in August, while a second batch of 79 trees will be moved or felled in October, Cuong elaborated.
The project will resume again in March 2018 with 70 trees affected and the remaining 46 trees will be dealt with in May.
After the bridge construction is complete, the relocated trees will be moved back to Ton Duc Thang, Cuong said.
“We will then grow 258 new trees along the street for a total of 373 trees [along Ton Duc Thang],” he said, implying that the upcoming project will ultimately add more green to the area.
The cost for the tree cutting and relocation is estimated at VND7 billion (US$308,370).
The 1,465m Thu Thiem 2 Bridge over the Saigon River will connect the Le Duan – Ton Duc Thang intersection in District 1 with the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2 and facilitate travel to and from the recently constructed urban area, as well as reduce congestion in the city’s downtown area.
The project broke ground in February 2015 and is expected to be completed by April 2018, with a total investment of more than VND3 trillion ($132.16 million), according to the transport department.
The current Thu Thiem Bridge also runs across the Saigon River, connecting Nguyen Huu Canh Street with the Thu Thiem neighborhood.
An artist's impression of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge