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Xayaboury-Luang Prabang road upgrade over 70 percent complete

The upgrade of National Road No. 4B running from Hongsa district in Xayaboury province to Chomphet district in Luang Prabang province is currently more than 70 percent complete and is on track to be finished at the end of this year.
Project head for the first section of the upgrade, Mr Sengchan Khongsavan, told Vientiane Times last week that work was taking place over a total distance of 114km. The upgrade is taking place over two sections and he was in charge of the first section of 42km from Napong village to Phousamphan mountain in Hongsa district.
“At least 75 percent of my section has been paved with asphalt. Some parts of the road will be 7 to 9 metres wide and cannot be widened further because they are bordered by mountains and people’s homes and commercial property,” he said. This section is expected to be completed in August. Originally it was slated for completion in April but an agreement was signed with the government for a four-month extension.
This section involved the construction of one concrete bridge. When the upgrade is complete, it will cut the travel time from a whole day to just two to four hours, he said.
Project head for the second section on the Luang Prabang side, Mr Sysomphanh Insyprasong, said he was in charge of a section that was at least 71km long. Work on this part was now about 75 percent complete and was scheduled to be finished in December.
Asphalt has been laid on about 20km and seven concrete bridges will be built. Work on this stretch was delayed when a big landslide occurred last rainy season.
Work to improve National Road No. 4B began in 2015 and will be finished at the end of this year. The government borrowed 1,977 million baht from Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) to finance the project. 
Eight percent of the money has been provided through a low-interest loan and 20 percent is in the form of a grant.  The government signed a loan agreement with Thailand at the end of 2014.
When complete, the road will be the quickest route between Hongsa and Chomphet districts. It will end at the Mekong riverbank in Chomphet district where a bridge will span the river so that traffic can continue into the town of Luang Prabang and onwards. The commercial and residential heart of Chomphet district has been moved to the Xiengman area as the district centre was situated in a valley and could not be expanded. The new urban area is now about 6km away. The township was previously alongside the Mekong River, directly opposite downtown Luang Prabang. The upgrade of Road No. 4B will help to spur investment in industry, agriculture, tourism and cross-border trade.
It will also provide a better road link with Thailand and Vietnam, facilitating tourism growth. The road is a key transport link between Thailand and Laos through the Huay Kon-Nam Ngeun border crossing in Thailand’s Chaloem Phra Kiat district, Nan province, and Xayaboury province, from where the road runs to Luang Prabang.
In terms of regional road links, there are five international friendship bridges crossing the Mekong. Four link Laos and Thailand while another connects Laos and Myanmar.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
March 27,

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