Samak Luedwonghat, Chief of the Phuket office of the Highways Department, told The Phuket News that the expansion project, costing in excess of B96.8 million, will make the road safer.
“As you can see, there are a lot of cars on the bypass road, especially during the rush hours, so we are widening the road and separating the expanded verge into frontage roads for drivers who want to access the shops or venues beside the road,” he said.
“The frontage roads and the main road will be clearly separated, and the drivers who want to access the venues can make their way more easily without worrying about the cars travelling along the main road,” Mr Samak said.
The traffic islands separating the frontage roads from the main bypass road are about 3.6 metres wide and will include street lighting and drains, he added.
“By developing the land beside the road into frontage roads, every person will have the right to use the frontage road for access, not just the owners of the venues beside the road. As you can see, they usually park their cars in those areas,” Mr Samak explained.
The project has been separated into two phases.
“Phase 1 of the project started in 2020, I cannot remember which month. The rest of the project is under the budget of the 2021 fiscal year and started in January this year,” Mr Samak said.
“Right now, we are working on the rest on the northbound road, while we are waiting for the Provincial Waterworks Authority to relocate their water pipe on the southbound road,” he said.
The project is already well behind schedule.
Phase 1, which is already complete, is along both sides of the bypass road, between PTT petrol station to the entrance of Samkong Underpass (Km 4+075 to Km 5+340).
Under the construction contract for Phase 1, contractor Chaikorn Co Ltd had 210 days, from May 9 to Dec 4 last year to complete the construction under a budget of B49,213,260.
Phase 2, however, is experiencing delays.
“The unfinished part is from the PTT petrol station to the office of Mahajak Development Co Ltd located near the steep slope,” Mr Samak said.
Phase 2 is along both sides of the road, from the PTT petrol station to the office of Mahajak Development Co Ltd (Km 3 to Km 4+175).
Under the contract, Chaikorn Co Ltd had 210 days, from Jan 20 to Aug 17 this year, to complete the construction under a budget of B47, 611,500.
“According to the contract, the project should have been finished in August, but it delayed because water pipes have not been relocated,” Mr Samak noted.
“Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 situation, the contractor has had difficulty transporting the building materials under the Phuket entry requirements,” he said.
“They must handle the cost of COVID-19 tests for truck drivers, so the expenses have increased. Also, we have to control the weight of trucks, which is another difficulty for the contractor,” he added.
“However, all parts of the project will be finished in time for the New Year holidays,” Mr Samak assured.
Mr Samak urged drivers to exercise caution while driving along the bypass road while the construction continues.
“It is normal for construction to cause inconvenience for the surrounding areas. I have to apologise for the inconvenience. Drivers and motorbike riders can still drive on the main road, but there may be trucks and other construction vehicles, and barriers on the road, while the construction continues,” he said.