Authorities in Siem Reap have started work on a new bridge in the centre of town in a bid to improve traffic flow. City Governor So Platong said the new structure would be built next to the Royal Residence Bridge, adding that the two would comprise the first twin bridges in the city.
“There is traffic congestion on the existing Royal Residence Bridge because it is a two-way bridge,” Platong said, “so we are constructing another bridge alongside the existing bridge.”
The Royal Residence Bridge, which is part of National Route 6, and which traverses the Siem Reap River, is the city’s busiest. The new bridge, which will be 46 metres long and eight metres wide, will take seven months to complete.
“The addition of the twin bridge will definitely ease traffic congestion and bring more beauty to the city,” he said.
Platong said provincial authorities would ensure that the new bridge did not damage the foundations of the Royal Residence Bridge, which is nearly 100 years old.
Platong said the authorities are also refurbishing a second, smaller bridge two kilometres further along the river. That project, to repair damage accumulated over the years, will also take seven months, meaning both should be open before April.
“They need to be completed before the Khmer New Year celebrations, because there will be a lot of people coming to Siem Reap to join the Angkor Sangkranta event,” he said.
Tackling congestion in the fast-growing city has long been necessary – and, at times, contentious. In April 2014, a local newspaper reported that the provincial public works and transportation department had announced it would cut down large trees on both sides of Route 6 as part of the road-widening plan.
Some residents were outraged, with one anonymous Facebook user creating a page titled “Please do NOT cut our TREES in Siem Reap”, which garnered thousands of supporters. Provincial governor Khim Bun Song stepped in and vowed the plans would be amended to spare the trees.
Platong said it was at that point that the authorities went back to the drawing board. “We stopped the road-widening project in the area, but now we are going to construct a road along the riverside, which will be located near the twin-bridge corner,” he said. “We hope the people of Siem Reap will be happy with the plans.”
Siem Reap resident Kang Kunthea said she hoped the new bridge would ease the city’s worsening traffic congestion.
“I am very happy to hear that Siem Reap city will have a twin bridge and I am looking forward to seeing it,” Kunthea said.