New Lao-Thai river bridge now 72% complete

The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge under construction in Borikhamxay province.

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking Borikhamxay province to Bueng Kan province in Thailand across the Mekong River, is now 72 per cent complete and is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2024.

Work on the bridge on both sides of the river began in January 2021.

Project director Laythong Phommavong said good progress was being made on the Lao side and construction was slightly ahead of schedule.

The construction plan to be completed by the end of April under Contract 1 comprised construction of the bridge in the middle of the river, the bridge entrance, repair of the road in Hangsing village, installation of fences, and other works. The work scheduled under this contract is now 57 per cent complete and is going to plan.

Laythong said Contract 2 involved construction of a road connecting to the bridge and immigration and customs buildings. This included soil work, installation of drainage pipes, construction of an emergency building, and other associated works.

This work is now 86 per cent complete, slightly ahead of the planned timeframe.

The average rate of progress made under both contracts up until the end of April is 72.17 percent, exceeding the target figure by 0.39 per cent, Laythong said.

With regard to the payment of compensation for the loss of land by local people to enable construction of the bridge, the loss was assessed at 52.4 hectares of land worth 5.33 billion kip.

The government has now reimbursed land title holders with 4.39 billion kip, amounting to 82.40 percent of the total owed.

It is expected that the two sides of the bridge will be connected in the centre of the Mekong River in the middle of this year and that the bridge will be open to traffic at the end of 2024.

Laos and Thailand agreed to the project in August 2019, with the cost to be borne by both countries.

Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) loaned the Lao government 1,380 million baht to pay its share of the project.

The bridge is made of extra-dosed pre-stressed concrete and is constructed in a pylon design inspired by the characteristics of the “khaen”, the traditional bamboo pipe instrument commonly found in the Mekong Basin region.

The bridge will have two carriageways, one in each direction, and a shoulder and sidewalk on each side. The total length will be 1,350 metres, including an 810-metre bridge span, a 130-metre approach viaduct on the Lao side, and a 410-metre approach viaduct on the Thai side.

The connecting roads on the Lao side will also provide links to Vietnam and southern China.

The bridge represents a big step forward in the development of infrastructure connecting regions on both sides of the Mekong River and enhancing regional transport networks.

The river crossing at this strategic location will spur cross-border trade, investment and tourism, bolster economic growth in Laos and Thailand, and strengthen the links between the two neighbours.

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Laos , Thailand , bridge


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