Light at end of Patong tunnel
PHUKET: One of the major Patong projects given the green light by the mobile Cabinet meeting in Phuket last month was the Patong tunnel, the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) has confirmed.
Friday 6 April 2012, 02:01PM
Aiyanut Tinapai, governor of EXAT, told The Phuket News on Wednesday that the Ministry of Transport has assigned EXAT to work on the tunnel design, and EXAT officials will visit Phuket “after Songkran” to take a look.
The project as currently envisaged will mark two firsts: it will be the first project outside Bangkok to be managed by EXAT; and it will be Phuket’s first toll road.
“The Patong tunnel project has been designed by Patong Municipality,” said Mr Aiyanut.
“But EXAT will make some additions to the existing plan by adding a 500-600-metre elevated roadway at one end of the tunnel, and another of 800-900 metres at the other end, for a total length of about three kilometres.
“There will be two lanes each way for cars and trucks, along with a bike lane each way. All this means the budget will increase slightly, from about B5.5 billion to B6 billion.”
With government funding a distant possibility, EXAT plans to go the build-operate-transfer (BOT) route, with a private company building and operating the tunnel until it has made an agreed profit, and then transferring ownership to a government body.
This would take five or six years, he said – “though we’re not quite sure yet”.
Some B20 million will be spent on inspection, studies and designs. This process will begin this year and will take about a year.
“Then we will expropriate the land we need, which may take a year or so, followed by three years for construction, which means the tunnel should be open for use at the end of 2016 or early in 2017.”
The toll for using the tunnel has not yet been set, he added, but will be cheaper than the tolls for using the expressways in Bangkok. “The toll may be between B30 and B60 for cars and B10 for motorbikes.
“Once it is completed, the tunnel should reduce traffic on Phrabaramee Rd, and will shorten the distance from Kathu to Patong by four kilometres. It should also reduce the number of road accidents.
“We are also thinking about developing the empty space under the elevated roads for parking spaces,” Mr Aiyanat added.
Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukbal told The Phuket New, “Already some companies from China and Korea have expressed interest in doing the construction work.”
He said he foresees no problems expropriating the land belonging to members of the Baan Morn community, the largest community along the proposed route.
“The land owners will get compensation at the full market value for land in Patong.”