Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge

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Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Thai-Lao-Freundschaftsbruecke.jpg
Official name Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Carries Motor vehicles, Trains
Crosses Mekong River, Thai-Lao Border
Locale Nong Khai, Nong Khai province
Vientiane, Vientiane Province
Total length 1.17 km
Width 3.5 m and 1.5 m
Opened April 4, 1994
Sign for the change of the rule of the road at the Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge

The First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge (Thai: สะพานมิตรภาพ ไทย-ลาว แห่งที่ 1, pronounced [sàpʰaːn míttràpʰâːp tʰaj laːw hɛ̀ŋ tʰîː nɯ̀ŋ]; Lao: ຂົວມິດຕະພາບ ລາວ-ໄທ ແຫ່ງທຳອິດ, [kʰǔə mittapʰâːp láːw tʰaj hɛŋ tʰám ǐt]) is a bridge over the Mekong, connecting Nong Khai province and the city of Nong Khai in Thailand with Vientiane Prefecture in Laos - the city of Vientiane is approximately 20 km from the bridge. With a length of 1,170m (0.73 mi), the bridge has two 3.5m (11 ft 6 in) wide road lanes, two 1.5m (4 ft 11 in) wide footpaths and a single 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge railway line in the middle, straddling the narrow central reservation.

History[edit]

Opened on April 8, 1994, it was the first bridge across the lower Mekong, and the second on the full course of the Mekong.[citation needed]

The cost was about £19 million,[citation needed] funded by the Australian government as development aid for Laos.[1]

The bridge was designed & built by Australian companies as a demonstration of their ability to complete major infrastructural projects in Southeast Asia. The concept design of a balanced cantilever bridge was proposed by Bruce Ramsay of VSL with the final design carried out by Maunsell consulting engineers.

The official name of the bridge was changed by the addition of "First" after the Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge further south at Savannakhet opened in January 2007.

Road traffic[edit]

Traffic on the bridge drives on the left, as in Thailand, while traffic in Laos drives on the right. The changeover at the Lao end, just before the border post, is controlled by traffic lights.

A shuttle bus service operates across the bridge, between the Lao and Thai border posts.

The bridge is part of the AH12 Asian Highway Network.

Railway[edit]

A metre-gauge rail track from Nong Khai station runs along the centre of the bridge. Road traffic is stopped when a train is crossing.

On March 20, 2004, an agreement between the Thai and Lao governments was signed to extend the railway to Thanaleng Railway Station in Laos, about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the bridge. This will be the first railway link to Laos (but not the first railway, as a short portage line once existed). The Thai government agreed to finance the line through a combination of grant and loan.[2] Construction formally began on January 19, 2007.[3] Test trains began running on July 4, 2008.[2] Formal inauguration occurred on March 5, 2009.[4]

On February 22, 2006, approval of funding for the rail line from Thanaleng Railway Station to Vientiane, about 9 km, was announced by the French Development Agency.[5]

In November 2010 plans to extend the service from Thanaleng to Vientiane were abandoned.[6] A posited high-speed rail link from China to Thailand through Laos would make the extension redundant. It would also necessitate the construction of a new bridge near to the current First Friendship Bridge. In 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's revised plan prioritises domestic rail expansion over the ambitious regional connectivity plan spearheaded by China.[7]

Since February 2010 the Eastern and Oriental Express crosses the Mekong via the bridge into Laos.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°52′42″N 102°42′56″E / 17.87833°N 102.71556°E / 17.87833; 102.71556