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Opening Of Vientiane-Vangvieng Expressway Delayed

Source: Vientiane Times

Authorities have postponed the opening of the 113.50-km expressway linking Vientiane and Vangvieng as work on the project is not yet fully complete.

It had originally been planned that the expressway would open to traffic on National Day on December 2.

Head of the expressway’s Management Committee, Mr Khattiyasack Chaiyavong, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that work was now 99.9 percent complete and the road would open this month.

Construction began at the end of 2018 and was initially scheduled to finish in 2021 but is now projected to be complete by the end of this year.

The road, which includes twin tunnels through Phoupha Mountain, will shorten the route by 43km compared to the existing Road No. 13 North.

People who use the expressway will be required to pay a fee, but can continue to travel on Road No. 13 North free of charge.
Chinese investors will operate the expressway under a 50-year concession agreement, with the total cost likely to be US$1.2 billion. The Lao government holds a 5 percent stake in the project.

The expressway is being built parallel to Road No. 13 North and the under-construction Laos-China railway. It runs from Sikeuth village in Naxaithong district, Vientiane, to Vangvieng district.

Speeds on the expressway are designated at 100km per hour on flat terrain from Sikeuth village to Phonhong district in Vientiane province, and 80km per hour through the more mountainous section between Phonhong and Vangvieng districts.

With motorists able to travel at higher speeds, officials say the journey between Vientiane and Vangvieng will be much quicker than at present.

A project development agreement was signed in 2017 during a state visit to Laos by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Vientiane-Vangvieng expressway is the first section of a planned expressway from the capital through the northern provinces to Boten in Luang Namtha province, which borders on China.