The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a 26 million USD technical assistance programme funded by Australia, for the construction of two large cable-stayed bridges in Vietnam.

The assistance is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to provide a 160 million AUD (171 million USD) grant to the Government of Vietnam for the Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project, as announced by Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her official visit to Vietnam in October 2010, the ADB said in a press release on June 1.

Australia’s grant will help finance the engineering, design and construction supervision of the project, as well as provide a major contribution to the cost of building the Cao Lanh Bridge across the Mekong River in Dong Thap province.

The construction of the other bridge, Vam Cong Bridge, is supported by the Government of the Republic of Korea (RoK) through a 200 million USD loan agreement signed with the Government of Vietnam.

It is a significant co-financing effort on the part of the official development partners to Vietnam for this flagship project that is estimated to cost 750 million USD, according to ADB.

Each bridge is two km long, with a six-lane roadway 40 metres above the Mekong River. Once constructed, the bridges and road will benefit about 170,000 users per day and five million residents of An Giang, Can Tho, and Dong Thap provinces.

The bridges and road will also improve transport services across and within the Central Mekong Delta region by connecting Ho Chi Minh City with the southwestern region of the Mekong Delta.

It is expected that the engineering design and bidding processes will be completed by 2012 and construction will start in 2013. The bridge and connecting road are expected to open for public use in 2017./.