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Back Stories » Saigon » New Proposal to Move Tôn Đức Thắng Underground to Make Room for Walking Plaza

It's ambitious, to say the least.

Việt Nam News reports that the municipal Department of Planning has put forth a plan to dramatically transform Tôn Đức Thắng Street and the riverside area of District 1. 

The most dramatic aspect of the plan involves moving Tôn Đức Thắng underground, thus freeing up space currently occupied by the road while linking the Nguyễn Huệ pedestrian street to the newly renovated Bạch Đằng Park

In addition to the below-ground road, parking for roughly 300 cars would also be added. A garden, coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores would be built underneath the Mê Linh roundabout, which just reopened after receiving a facelift of its own.

Người Lao Động adds further details in Vietnamese. For example, the above-ground space around Mê Linh will feature three bus stops and a light rail transit (LRT) station, though it is not clear what this refers to as no LRT system is currently being built. 

The removal of surface traffic would also link the existing Bạch Đằng Waterbus station to Mê Linh, whereas accessing the station currently requires a dangerous crossing of Tôn Đức Thắng. 

Architect Hoàng Ngọc Lan told the news source that these facilities would also connect to the planned pedestrian bridge over the Saigon River. That infrastructure project will someday provide access to the central square of the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area across the river from District 1, but no work on such a bridge has begun and Thủ Thiêm remains mired in red tape.

While no potential timeline or cost for this extensive riverside renovation has been put forth, creating underground space is in line with other announced plans in the city, especially the envisioned underground commercial stretch between the Ben Thanh and Opera House metro station. 

In other news related to Tôn Đức Thắng, the long-delayed Thủ Thiêm 2 Bridge, which has snarled traffic for years, is expected to open to traffic on April 30. 

[Photo by Ngọc Dương via Thanh Niên]

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