HCM City plans underground road to expand, beautify downtown space

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A view of the renovated Bạch Đằng Wharf Park in HCM City’s District 1. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — An underground space including a four-lane road connecting downtown HCM City with the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area is being planned by the municipal Department of Planning Architecture.

The department says the underground space will also include two basement floors with public parking lots for around 300 cars.

A pedestrian walkway and tram lines will be built on the surface area around Bạch Đằng Wharf Park located along the Sài Gòn River bank.

Beneath the Mê Linh Roundabout will be a garden, coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores.

The area will be connected to an underground parking lot beneath Tôn Đức Thắng Street.

On the above-ground area of Mê Linh Roundabout, a “cool” space will be created for visitors.

Between the Mê Linh Roundabout and Sài Gòn River bank, there will be three public bus stations and a LTR (Light Rail Transit) station that could be built underground, as also a water bus station.

City authorities had already approved a detailed plan for developing the downtown area’s underground space in 2012, and asked the Department of Planning and Architecture to develop a similar roadmap for the entire city.

In 2020, the department submitted several proposals for underground space planning for the 930-ha city centre comprising Districts 1 and 3 and the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area in Thủ Đức city.

The plan comprises underground spaces of the two Metro No. 1 stations, Bến Thành and Opera House, that is scheduled to start operations by the end of 2023 or shortly thereafter.

The underground works will open up space for traffic, services and commerce, the department says.

They will not only help reduce traffic jams but respond to the city’s rapid urban development needs.

Last year, the department sought feedback from other city agencies and experts on creating an underground plaza in the downtown area.

Experts said then that underground facilities would relieve pressure above ground and boost the city’s security.

They agreed that underground developments were urgently needed because of the metro lines planned to ease transportation in the city.

More than a dozen other projects alongside the metro line are under construction.

Underground spaces connecting metro lines and public transport vehicles will be important, and the main metro stations should have many services, with underground tunnels connecting markets, trade centres and other establishments, the experts said.

Underground developments would be a new investment channel for developers and investors, they added.

Projects currently planned include underground spaces at the Quách Thị Trang Square and the 23.9 Park.

The first underground trade centre beneath the metro line near Bến Thành Market is being built on 45,000sq.m area with a shopping area and square.

The Bạch Đằng Wharf Park located on Tôn Đức Thắng Street is one of the most popular destinations for both local residents and tourists in the city. It covers a 23,400sq.m area and stretches 1.3km along the Sài Gòn River bank.

Many aspects of the park are several decades old and in need of being upgraded.

In 2020, the municipal People’s Committee approved a design proposed by the department to upgrade the entire 18,600sq.m area of the park. The VNĐ68 billion (US$2.96 million) upgrade was completed before Tết (Lunar New Year Festival) that fell on February 1 this year.

The park is divided into three functional areas, including a memorial area, a community area and a tourism promotion area providing rest areas, river transport services, travel guides and support for tourists. — VNS

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