The Ministry of Transport has announced its plan for investing in and upgrading expressways, with a focus on giving priority to funding the enhancement of dual-lane expressways to improve operational efficiency and ensure traffic safety.

In the report submitted to the Prime Minister, the ministry proposes upgrading approximately 689km of dual-lane expressways to four-lane ones with a total investment of approximately VNĐ87.5 trillion (US$3.5 billion), and upgrading about 2,141km of four-lane expressways with a total investment of more than VNĐ425.7 trillion ($17.02 billion).

The ministry also suggested a balanced funding plan for immediate investment and upgrade of expressways.

However, given the difficulties in State funding, the ministry stated that balancing the State budget of more than VNĐ494.5 trillion ($19.7 billion) for investment and upgrade of expressways is challenging and may affect the goal of completing 5,000km of expressways as outlined in the 13th Party Congress Resolution.

Therefore, the ministry has proposed investment plans divided into different groups.

In the first group, five expressways with urgent transportation needs will be prioritised with a total investment of over VNĐ55.3 trillion ($2.2 billion). This includes around VNĐ15.03 trillion from the State budget and about VNĐ40.3 trillion from investor mobilisation.

The five expressways include the 66km-long La Sơn-Hoà Liên section requiring around VNĐ3.01 trillion to upgrade from two to four lanes; the 98km-long Cam Lộ-La Sơn section needing about VNĐ7 trillion to upgrade from two to four lanes; the 15km-long Cao Bồ-Mai Sơn section requiring about VNĐ1.99 trillion to upgrade from four to six lanes; the 51km-long Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận section to be upgraded from four to six lanes under the (public-private partnership) model; and the 26km-long Hoà Lạc-Hoà Bình section to be upgraded from two to six lanes under the PPP model.

The second group comprises three expressways aimed at meeting transportation demands and integrating with adjacent already-operating sections. The total state budget requirement is around more than VNĐ18.6 trillion.

This includes upgrading the 83km-long Yên Bái-Lào Cai section to four lanes with the estimated investment capital of over VNĐ7.2 trillion, upgrading the 40km-long Thái Nguyên-Chợ Mới section, with about VNĐ8.1 trillion; and upgrading a 12km section passing through Hải Phòng City and Thái Bình Province on the Ninh Bình-Hải Phòng Expressway to four lanes with the amount of more than VNĐ3.2 trillion.

The third group includes the remaining dual-lane expressways with a budget of approximately VNĐ50.8 trillion from the State budget. Projects include Phase 1 of the Tuyên Quang-Hà Giang section, around 104km long, requiring about VNĐ9.3 trillion; Phase 1 of the Hoà Bình-Mộc Châu section, 66km long, needing about VNĐ14.1 trillion; Phase 1 of the Đồng Đăng-Trà Lĩnh section, 93km long, needing about VNĐ9.5 trillion; a 17km connecting route between Tân Thanh and Cốc Nam border gates, requiring about VNĐ1.42 trillion; and the Chơn Thành-Đức Hoà section, 84km long, needing about VNĐ16.4 trillion.

The last group consists of the remaining limited four-lane expressways. According to the ministry’s preliminary calculations, these projects need an additional VNĐ410 trillion from the State budget.

According to the ministry, most limited four-lane expressways are operating effectively and are generally suitable for transportation needs. Therefore, except for some urgently needed sections requiring immediate investment and upgrade, the ministry suggested the remaining sections focus on completing infrastructure such as rest stops, weigh stations and ITS systems in the short term.

Research on toll collection methods

In addition, the ministry proposed that the Government allocate around VNĐ7 trillion ($280 million) from the State budget to invest in upgrading the Cam Lộ-La Sơn section to four lanes, meeting the basic completion requirements by the end of 2025.

It also proposed that competent authorities promptly submit to the National Assembly for solutions to address difficulties and obstacles in Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) transportation projects, providing a basis for researching investment and upgrading the Thái Nguyên-Chợ Mơi section to four lanes.

The ministry suggested expediting the investment and upgrading the La Sơn-Hòa Liên, Cao Bồ-Mai Sơn and Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận sections; and coordinating with the relevant authorities in the research and preparation for investment and upgrading of the Yên Bái-Lào Cai and Ninh Bình-Hải Phòng expressways.

For the remaining dual-lane expressways, the ministry will coordinate with localities to select appropriate traffic organisation options to enhance operational efficiency and ensure traffic safety.

Regarding public investment projects, the ministry will study toll collection methods as regulated.

The ministry recommended coordinating with localities to review transportation demand, report to competent authorities for consideration of allocating funds to upgrade some limited four-lane expressway sections with increasing transportation demand to full-scale as planned in the period of 2026-2030. The remaining limited four-lane sections will be upgraded after 2030. — VNS