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Saigon Might Put Underground Towns Beneath D1, Thu Thiem

City officials insist that underground expansions are necessary because the city is developing its metro network.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Planning and Architecture, a plan for the development of underground urban spaces is underway and will be finalized in 2019, VnExpress reports. The 930-hectare center area and Thu Thiem New Urban Area will comprise the project's main structures.

The department’s planning unit will conduct hydrology and geology analyses and inspect the state of the current ground and underground construction sites in the aforementioned areas. Boundaries, locations and scales of each construction site will be set accordingly.

“It would help [open] up space for vehicles and services underground, which can ease traffic congestion and meet the demands coming from the city’s rapid urban development,” said a department official on Sunday, April 15.

However, the announcement also raised eyebrows among urban planning experts. One significant setback is that networks of electronic and telecommunication cables, water pipes, and a drainage system currently occupy most of the downtown area's underground.

Deputy Director of the Department of Construction Nguyen Van Hiep cited a recent example in which the city approved the construction of an underground path connecting Vincom A and Vincom B that was later scrapped because the network of water pipes occupying the underground site cannot be tampered with.

Another obstacle is that these networks are managed by different department units, making it hard to centralize management and maintain a coherent plan.

An example of this challenge was brought up by urban planning expert Ha Ngoc Truong, who shared that his research team once met many difficulties studying the cause of sinkholes in the city because the surveyed underground area was managed by 15 different government agencies.

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