Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway creates a spectacle amidst spectacular terrain

The Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway, which winds its way through spectacular terrain of rice fields, hillocks, sea and rivers, is itself a spectacle as aerial captures show.

The expressway, which links the investment hub of Van Don in Quang Ninh with the northern province's Mong Cai border town, opened to traffic Thursday.

Built at a total cost of VND12 trillion ($511.5 million), the 80.23-kilometer expressway reduces travel time between Van Don and Mong Cai from two hours to just 50 minutes.

The island district of Van Don is home to the Van Don Economic Zone and Van Don Airport, the only privately-invested airport in Vietnam. Mong Cai, about 178 kilometers from the UNESCO heritage site of Ha Long Bay, is a trade hub as it borders China.

The four-lane expressway allows vehicles to travel at a maximum speed of 120 kph, reducing travel time from Mong Cai to Ha Long Bay by nearly half and from Mong Cai to Hanoi to three hours from 5.5 hours.

Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway holds special significance in terms of socio-economic development and national defence as it forms inter-provincial links and facilitates international trade.

The project includes the 16-kilometer Van Don-Tien Yen section, with a total investment of VND3.66 trillion ($156 million) using the provincial budget, and the 64-kilometer Tien Yen-Mong Cai section, built at a cost of over VND9.1 trillion ($387.9 million) in the form of public-private partnership (PPP) with Sun Group as private investor.

Sun Group, Vietnam's leading property developer, is the investor of Van Don airport, Ha Long international cruise port, and a giant theme park in Ha Long town.

The main route of the expressway includes 35 bridges across the sea and rivers, totaling more than 7.9 kilometers in length. The most prominent of these is the Van Tien Bridge, which is more than 1.5 km long, 25.5 m wide, and 19 m deep.

The expressway's intelligent traffic system is equipped with 66 CCTV cameras that can observe and clearly see objects at a distance of 1 km, recording 24/24 hours in all weather conditions.

A toll collection station. The route has adopted an electronic toll collection (ETC) system. Toll exemption is applied until the end of September.

Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway is the only expressway in Vietnam that has a light system for the whole route.

With the inauguration of this expressway, Quang Ninh has become the province with the largest number of expressway kilometers (176 kilometers), accounting for 15% of the nationwide total.

Under Vietnam's road development planning in 2021-2030, with a vision towards 2050, the country aims to develop over 5,000 kilometers of expressways by 2030, compared to more than 1,160 kilometers at the end of 2021.

There will be 14 expressways with total length of about 2,305 kilometers in the north, 10 expressways with combined length of 1,431 kilometers in the central region and Central Highlands, and 10 expressways with a total length of 1,290 kilometers in the south.

Bach Quang