Bridge to ease Man­dalay-Muse traf­fic

The Myanmar Times - - News - SI THU LWIN sithul­win@mm­ SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han and Emoon

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.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

Trucks sit backed up along the Man­dalay-Muse road in Jan­uary.

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