“Actually, the road with crushed rock is completed. There are now a lot of people using the route already,” Mr Tiwat told The Phuket News yesterday (Mar 1).
“However, while there are a lot of tourists using the road, we are concerned about those who are not used to the route, as the gradient of the road on the way up and and down is quite steep,” he said.
Road engineers surveyed the gradient of the road on Feb 22 to determine which sections should be covered with concrete to make using the road safer, Mr Tiwat said.
The areas identified in need of improvement to make it safer for drivers comprised 500 metres of road on the Chalong side and about one kilometre on the Patong side, he noted.
The sections of road range from six to eight metres wide, he added.
“In case of rain, the slopes can be dangerous for drivers. Our engineers have already measured how long and wide sections of road with steep slopes will be turned into concrete roads and they are designing it. We chose concrete because it is durable from water erosion during the rainy season,” he said.
“Paving the road on the steep slopes does not have to wait for approval from Phuket Provincial Office of the Royal Forest Department, though that is usually the case, as it is necessary for the safety of drivers,” he added.
“After the engineers have completed their designs of the steep sections of road, they will evaluate the budget for each of them. This will be a separate budget from the previous project to make the route,” Mr Tiwat explained.
“Chalong Municipality and Patong Municipality will both have to file their requests to the PPAO for the budget to improve the steep sections of road in their areas. We have had a meeting about this already and we will look into how much each of them can support the construction cost and how much the PPAO will support the budget,” he said.
However, permission from the Phuket Provincial Forestry Office is required for the PPAO to pave a flat section of the road that crosses Royal Forest Department land with asphalt, Mr Tiwat said.
“We cannot make the whole route paved just yet as we are waiting for Phuket Provincial Forestry Office approval, but the request has been filed.
“After approval has been granted, we are also planning to install street lights along the route for safety during nighttime,” he said.
Mr Tiwat noted that the road not only serves as an alternative route to and from Patong, but is also an attraction for tourists in itself.
“Apart from being an alternative route, the road also has the potential to be a new attraction for tourism because of its scenery,” he said.
“A lot of people are using this route during the day now, and we can see that many tourists are interested in this route because of its beautiful view and fresh breeze.
“There are also plenty of runners exercising around the area,” he said.
The Chalong-Patong road traverses steep hills for a total length of 3.5km, from behind the Klong Kata reservoir in Chalong to 50 Pi Rd in Patong. Before the current ongoing roadworks, which began Oct 24 last year, the road was little more than a dirt track.
Attempts to have the track officially designated to become a permanent road had been repeatedly proposed for more than a decade, but were denied as the road passes through a protected forest area. That hurdle was instantly dismissed as officials scrambled for alternative routes to Patong following the Patong Hill landslide on Oct 19.
At the time the project began, it was estimated to take two weeks to complete, giving a target deadline of opening a temporary road to traffic in early November.
The plans were then changed in favour of a 12-metre-wide permanent road. Plans included widening the road, creating large drainage ditches on either side “to prevent people from taking advantage of the new road either by illegal logging or illegal excavation”, PPAO President Rewat Areerob announced at the time.
The permanent road was also to include bicycle lanes. Fences were to run along each side of the road to help prevent wildlife from straying onto the road. Small tunnels were to be built to allow wildlife to cross from one side to the other without risking crossing the surface of the road, Mr Rewat said.
How much the project would cost in total to build the fully fledged road, and how much the road has cost so far, have never been revealed.
Mr Tiwat declined to give a figure for the construction costs for the road.
“We are still finalising it,” he said.
JohnC | 03 March 2023 - 09:23:04