A new highway bridge spanning more than a quarter of a kilometer over the Honghe River on the border of China and Vietnam is expected to be completed and open to vehicles in December.
The bridge linking southwest China's Yunnan Province, and Lao Cai, in Vietnam, will be the third on the Honghe River, also known as Red River when it flows out of China, constructed at Hekou, on the Chinese side.
The new bridge -- 295 meters long and 21.5 meters wide -- was necessary to allow transport of the growing volume of cross-border trade, said a Hekou county government spokesman.
It would ease pressure on the existing highway bridge and railway bridge.
Under the agreement between the governments of China and Vietnam in June last year, both countries are required to share the construction and the total cost of about US$8.4 million.
"The Chinese government will shoulder 39.3 million yuan (US$5.1 million) of the cost and half of the construction of the bridge," said the spokesman.
"The new bridge is necessary because the growing trade and flow of people has exceeded the capacities of the existing bridges, as can be seen in the increasingly frequent traffic jams," said the spokesman.
The new bridge, begun in October, would connect with freeways running to Kunming, capital of Yunnan, and Hanoi in Vietnam, which would eventually cut the travel time between the cities from the present 17 hours to 13 hours.
Hekou, as a major border trade station, reported the crossing of 444,595 tons of cargo in the first quarter, up 16.27 percent, from the same period last year, and trade worth US$235 million, up 110.44 percent, according to the local customs.
The Honghe River originates in northwestern Yunnan and empties into the Beibu Gulf at Hai-phong in Vietnam.
(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2007)