The Hanoi People's Committee has approved a transport development plan for the period from 2011-15, a project estimated to cost 153 trillion VND (7.5 billion USD), which aims to upgrade the city's transport infrastructure and address traffic problems.

In the April proposal, the Hanoi Transport Department requested more than 260 trillion VND (13 billion USD) to carry out the plan. This figure, which amounts to 20 per cent of the city's GDP, raised concerns among both experts and the public about the feasibility of funding the proposal, and the projected cost was reduced to 145 trillion VND (7 billion USD) in a later draft of the budget released this month.

Under the newly-approved plan, in the next five years Hanoi will prioritise the construction of national highways, ring roads, bridges, overpasses for pedestrians and railway routes through inner districts.

The first urban railway project, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong Route, is expected to become operational in 2014, followed by the Nhon-Hanoi Station Route in 2016, and the Nam Thang Long – Tran Hung Dao and Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi Routes in 2018.

The municipal People's Committee Vice Chairman, Nguyen Van Khoi, said that in addition to improving the transport infrastructure of the city center, the proposed plan also includes work in suburban districts.

The city intends to pave all urban roads over 4,900km in length, targeting key roads linking districts to the city or to the provincial main routes, which help to build new rural areas and boost local tourism, according to the vice chairman.

Also included in the plan are provisions for 12 additional bus routes and 40 new multi-storey and underground parking lots to deal with the increasing demand for space./.