Expressways are major arterial roads that separate a road into two or more traffic lanes in each direction. These are built with a median strip to separate traffic moving in opposite directions, eliminate grade crossings, and control entry and departure points. Upcoming expressways are being built using the latest, advanced construction techniques to eliminate steep grades, sharp curves, and other risks. Ministries and transport departments of ASEAN countries are working on various expressway projects that are expected to become operational in the next four to five years. Southeast Asia Infrastructure tracks the latest developments in key upcoming expressway projects across the region…

Vietnam

HCMC-Moc Bai expressway

The authorities in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Tay Ninh province have announced that construction on the VND 13.6 trillion HCMC-Moc Bai expressway is expected to start in 2023 and be completed in 2025. The 53 km expressway will connect Ring Road No. 3 in HCMC’s outlying district of Hoc Mon to National Highway 22 in the southern province of Tay Ninh’s Moc Bai Border Gate Economic Zone. Figure 1 shows the planned route of the upcoming expressway.

The expressway will be constructed using a build-operate-transfer investment model. Between Tay Ninh and the Southern Key Economic Zone, the new expressway is intended to cut traffic congestion and increase accessibility. It will have four lanes and allow vehicles to drive at a top speed of 80 km per hour. Compensation payments for land acquisition are expected to be completed by 2022, allowing work on the delayed project to begin in 2023.

Inter-Mekong Delta expressway

The length of the upcoming Inter-Mekong Delta expressway in Vietnam, linking Can Tho City with Ca Mau province, will be 31 km shorter than initially proposed. As per the revisions to the plan, the expressway will now run from Can Tho through Kien Giang province instead of Soc Trang province before reaching Ca Mau.This alternative reduces the distance the most, has the lowest construction costs, and will primarily pass through agricultural areas, making site clearance easier.

The expressway will span approximately 125 km and include 112 bridges and 13 intersections. Total investment in the expressway project is nearly VND 50 trillion and work is projected to start in 2022. It will begin near the borders of Vinh Long province and Can Tho City and end in Ho Thi Ky Commune of Ca Mau’s Thoi Binh district. The expressway will feature four lanes with a width of 25 metres and a top speed of 100 km per hour.

Kathu-Patong expressway

The Government of Thailand has approved plans to develop the 3.98 km Kathu-Patong expressway in Phuket. The toll road is expected to cost around THB 14.6 billion and will be financed under investments through a publicprivate partnership model. Of the total cost, THB 5.79 billion has been allocated to settle land acquisition costs while the remaining will cover the cost of construction. Between May and June 2022, the Expressway Authority of Thailand will invite bids from possible private partners, with the chosen bidder slated to begin construction in 2023 and open the route to traffic by July 2027.

The expressway will contain two lanes for automobiles and two lanes for motorbikes in each direction, as well as a 1.85 km tunnel. The tollway is expected to relieve traffic congestion on Highway 4029, minimise accidents, and increase tourism. The new toll way is one of the key projects under Phuket’s smart city development strategy.

Malaysia

Kota Bharu-Kuala Krai expressway

The Kota Bharu-Kuala Krai expressway is a 73 km expressway that will connect the cities of Kota Bharu and Kuala Krai in Kelantan, Malaysia. The expressway will be constructed as a four-lane dual-carriage highway with complete access control. Widad Builders Sdn Bhd, the Widad Group Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary, has secured a letter of award from the Public Works Department of Malaysia to build Package 3C of the expressway. The contract is valued at RM 244.3 million. Work is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Cambodia

Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport of Cambodia has announced that a feasibility study for the proposed 135 km expressway connecting Phnom Penh with the Bavet-Moc Bai International Border Gate is currently underway. The Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway is designed to boost connectivity with Vietnam and strengthen economic relations between the two countries, with focus on export promotion. Figure 2 shows the proposed route of the Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway.

Source: JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY (JICA)

The expressway will be 25.5 metres wide and include two lanes in each direction. The route will go from Phnom Penh’s third ring road to Bavet town on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, passing through the provinces of Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. The highway will have seven interchanges, six rest areas, and a new border crossing facility. Construction on the expressway is expected to commence soon.

Upcoming expressways in Laos

The Government of Laos is planning to build more expressways.The section of the expressway between Boten and Huayxai district in Bokeo province has been surveyed and a feasibility study and detailed design plan are now being carried out. A new expressway is planned between the Third Lao-Thai Bridge in Thakhaek district and the Vietnamese border in Khammuan province; a feasibility study for the project is under way.A feasibility study is also in progress for an expressway between Thangon village in Xaythany district, Vientiane, and Sanglek village in Thoulakhom district, Vientiane province. Further, an expressway is also planned between Pakxan district and the Vietnamese border in Xaychamphon district, Borikhamxay province.

The way forward

Expressway projects connecting different regions will reduce travel time, and boost trade, business and real estate development along its route. Going forward, these projects will improve logistics and fix supply chain leakages across the region.