To address heavy traffic and storm-related disturbances on the bridge which currently connects to Ha Long Bay, authorities have proposed a 1.3-kilometer long tunnel to serve the UNESCO heritage site.
If approved by the prime minister, the tunnel would be built in the northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh at an estimated cost of VND7.875 trillion (US$346.5 million) according to Vietnam News. Construction would begin in 2019 and take four years to complete.
Ha Long Bay received 6.93 million visitors last year, which is up 12.9% from 2016. This increase has further congested traffic on Bai Chay Bridge, which is the only way to reach the area after the outdated Bai Chay ferry was retired in 2006. Heavy storms threaten safety on the bridge and thus often interrupt economic activities. Therefore, provincial authorities claim the tunnel is necessary, at a cost of nearly six times that of the bridge, which was finished ten years ago.
The proposed underwater tunnel will serve similar functions to the existing Bai Chay Bridge.
The tunnel would constitute the majority of the 2.1-kilometer Cua Luc Tunnel project. It would begin at Ha Long Street, at the intersection that leads into Sun World Ha Long Park, and end at the intersection on Le Thanh Tong Street, thus reaching under the narrow Cua Luc Bay.
Nguyen Van Doc, secretary of the Quang Ninh Province Party Committee, described it as a “key project.” However, the project remained at the “ideation stage” so the Party Committee still needs to collect feedback to consolidate its pre-feasibility report. Surveys need to be performed to assess the geographical conditions of the site. The Quang Ninh Province Party Committee has already agreed to a six-lane design of the tunnel and its direction, so once the pre-feasibility report is done, it can be made public to for feedback.
Construction is already underway on a nearby international airport, as well as an expressway connecting Ha Long with Hanoi to better serve the area.