Bridge to ease Mandalay-Muse traffic
A SERIES of new road projects are planned to ease overland transportation woes between Myanmar and China.
Union Minister for Construction U Win Khaing announced yesterday that a field inspection is complete for an 11-mile (7-kilometre) bypass of Muse on the Chinese border in northern Shan State. He also said the MuseNamkham road will be repaved in the 2016-17 financial year.
In another section of Shan State, construction on a new four-lane suspension bridge to replace a winding portion of road near the Gokteik Viaduct on the Mandalay-Muse road will start later this year, according to Oriental Highway Company, which won a build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract for the project.
The plans for the Muse bypass and Muse-Namkham road repaving were announced in an Amyotha Hluttaw session last week after an MP asked about plans to upgrade the MuseNamkham Road and make it serviceable for Chinese truckers.
The bypass would start at mile marker 270 of the Mandalay-Muse road and reconnect at mile marker 285.3 near the entrance to Muse. Negotiations are under way to determine the exact route that will do the least amount of damage to farmland and existing infrastructure. The proposed route runs near or over more than 100 acres of corn, sugarcane, lychee, rubber and rice paddy crops, as well as 54 buildings, including a school and a monastery.
Chinese big-rig trucks are using the Muse-Namkham road, which is not meant for large vehicles. As a result, the road is torn up and traffic jams are frequent. The Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, and the Ministry of Construction will discuss weight limits for the route.
The repaving, which starts in the current 2016-17 financial year, is expected to be completed in 2019.
The suspension bridge near Gokteik, which was approved by the Shan State Transportation Department, will be 2800 feet (848 metres) in length and 600 feet high, built of concrete with steel suspension wires.
The route is currently narrow and, when accidents happen, traffic jams follow, slowing the distribution of goods.
“We picked a place based on a study,” Oriental Highway’s project director told The Myanmar Times yesterday. “If something changes when we start the project, we can make alterations. It will be the largest steel and concrete suspension bridge in the country.
“Seven miles of travel will be avoided because of the bridge. It will save time and keep people safe from danger.”
The bridge will run from mile marker 72.5, he said, bypassing the old winding route and reconnecting with the main road at mile marker 92.5.
The Mandalay-Muse road is more than 280 miles long with 13 toll gates. It is the most important ASEAN road for distribution to and from northern Myanmar. It is expanding from two lanes to four through another project involving the Oriental Highway Company and 14 other companies.
In January, traffic jams on the road resulted in losses for vegetable merchants leading to calls for improvements to the area. The old route will stay open for those who prefer the narrow path.
Trucks sit backed up along the Mandalay-Muse road in January.