The Bridge of Vietnam-Soviet Friendship: Thang Long

The Hanoitimes - Thirty years since the collapse of the Soviet Union one of the witnesses of the friendship between Vietnam and the Soviet Union remains: Thang Long Bridge.

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11 years of construction experience

Thang Long Bridge, a remarkable feat of engineering, was meticulously constructed over a span of several years. Beginning its construction on November 26, 1974, and finally inaugurated on May 9, 1985, the bridge stands as a testament to perseverance and determination. The construction of Thang Long Bridge faced numerous challenges and setbacks, undergoing two distinct phases. Initially, Chinese engineers were tasked with designing and building the bridge. However, this progress was abruptly halted in 1978 when external aid was abruptly discontinued, leaving the project incomplete with only 20% of the work accomplished. Despite the obstacles faced, there were still significant tasks remaining to be completed in order to realize the vision of Thang Long Bridge.

In June 1979, the Thang Long Bridge project was reinstated with the fortunate assistance of friends from the Soviet Union. This collaborative effort was made possible by the Vietnam-Soviet Intergovernmental Agreement signed on November 3, 1978, wherein the Soviet Union generously aided Vietnam in completing the project. As part of the agreement, the Soviet Union provided Vietnam with essential materials and expert guidance.

Thang Long bridge was successfully constructed and commissioned in 1985, thanks to the invaluable support received. It stands today as a testament to the enduring friendship between Vietnam and the former Soviet Union. Despite the passage of 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, symbols commemorating this bond can still be found on both ends of the bridge. Consequently, the bridge is also affectionately known as Huu Nghi, meaning “Friendship” in Vietnamese.

Mr. Hoang Minh Chuc, along with a group of Soviet experts, successfully executed the Thang Long bridge construction project. This documentary photo captures the moment during the project.

Sharing the Ups and Downs

Mr. Hoang Minh Chuc, the former Vice Chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, expressed his admiration for the joint efforts of Vietnamese cadres and workers in constructing the Thang Long Bridge. This remarkable achievement marks the first time Vietnam and Southeast Asia have witnessed the construction of such a grand bridge.

Mr. Chuc, previously serving as the General Director of the Union of Factories of Thang Long Bridge Construction responsible for project implementation, highlighted site clearance as one of the project’s most challenging aspects.

There was a requirement for clearing over 190 hectares of land in the Dong Anh and Tu Liem districts. Additionally, the completion of nearly 50km of railways, 20km of roads, and over 10,000m2 of housing for workers was necessary before the project could restart.

Despite facing numerous challenges, the dedicated officials and workers of the union persevered in their mission to successfully complete the project and bring the bridge into operation. They admirably worked in underground conditions, enduring extreme weather conditions, lack of infrastructure, and unyielding dedication throughout icy winters and scorching summers.

Thang Long Bridge

Photo by Pham Hung
Thang Long Bridge

During the course of the project, the invaluable assistance provided by Soviet allies played a significant role in conjunction with the hard work and dedication of Vietnamese cadres and workers. Mr. Chuc emphasized the crucial support received from our esteemed Soviet friends during the most challenging phase of the project.

One of the most cherished memories of the construction of Thang Long Bridge was the gathering of workers, foreign friends, and the narrator himself to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year Festival. During this time, the friends from the Soviet Union joined the narrator and their family, transcending the distances and boundaries of their respective countries. It was a moment of camaraderie and unity that remains etched in his memory.

The Thang Long Bridge is a transportation infrastructure that accommodates both railway and automobile traffic. The bridge has two floors, with the second floor dedicated specifically to automobiles. This floor features a spacious road that is 16.5 meters wide, comprised of four lanes. Additionally, there are two two-meter-wide corridors specifically designated for pedestrian use.

During the third round of restoration in 2020, the Thang Long Bridge underwent significant improvements, with a total investment of 270 billion VND ($1.16 million). The purpose of this restoration project was to give the bridge a refreshed appearance, while also enhancing its effectiveness as a vital transportation link within the city and for neighboring areas.

About Thang Long Bridge

Thang Long Bridge stands out among other bridges in Vietnam due to its unique features. It plays a vital role in various aspects of Hanoi’s political, economic, and social landscape. Unlike other bridges solely dedicated to car traffic, Thang Long Bridge accommodates both road and railway transportation. Furthermore, it has recently taken on the additional responsibility of serving two water pipes. Thang Long Bridge continues to fulfill its significant mission with utmost dedication.