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Hopes float to re-open flooded underpass

PHUKET: Traffic Police are hoping the Darasamut Underpass will fully re-open by this afternoon (May 9) after more than a day of attempting to clear the tunnel of dangerous flood waters.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 9 May 2023, 12:07PM

UPDATE: The Phuket Info Center confirmed at 11:50am that both lanes through the underpass had fully reopened.

“There is not a lot of flood water remaining [in the tunnel] and it should not take long to fix this,” Pol Lt Sommart Tanmaneeprasert of Wichit Police told The Phuket News this morning.

The underpass flooded following a heavy downpour at about 2am yesterday (May 8). By 6:30am yesterday there had been a seven-car pileup in the southbound lane of the tunnel, leading to several of the concrete barriers separating traffic in the tunnel being damaged.

No injuries were reported as a result of the pile-up. However, two of the damaged concrete barriers struck by cars ended up in the northbound lane inside the tunnel, forcing traffic police to close the tunnel to traffic in both directions for safety.

By 11:30am yesterday, traffic police reported that broken water pumps had left officials unable to drain the floodwaters from the tunnel. Motorists were urged to avoid the area.

By 5pm yesterday traffic police were able to reopen the northbound lane to traffic, but the southbound lanes remained closed.

Traffic Police reported that the delays in reopening the tunnel were due to two of the drainage pumps being inoperable, and the third had ceased functioning.

By 6pm, nearly seven hours after officials knew at least two of the pumps were not working, a pump truck from the Phuket Waterworks Authority (PWA) arrived to start draining the floodwaters from the tunnel.

It was not reported why a pump truck from the Phuket Provincial branch of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket) was not dispatched to clear the floodwaters. The DDPM-Phuket has mobile pump trucks on 24-hour standby to use to clear floodwaters from villages in distress during heavy rains.

By this morning traffic was still allowed through the tunnel northbound, but the southbound lane was closed.

Attempts by The Phuket News to contact Phuket Highways Office Chief Yutthana Pitak to clarify why the pump system had failed have been unsuccessful.

The Darasamut Underpass is regularly closed for maintenance to ensure that the lighting system and the pump system to drain the tunnel of any floodwaters are operational. The underpass was last closed for a full maintenance check in January.

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Kurt | 10 May 2023 - 10:29:03

Yes, JohnC, these missing plastic deviders are chopped by drivers who can not remain in their lane or fall asleep when they drive from light into 'dark'. Chalong underpass is so narrow designed that placing concrete deviders problaly is not possible. Imagine driver from opposite direction goes out of his lane, you can't avoid him/her. For me reason to avoid that underpass.

Kurt | 10 May 2023 - 09:48:39

There they go again! 4 Very dry months behind us. Great! Thrown away the opportunity to check, revise/repair or replace underpass pumps everywhere.. Now, after high season, we can wait for the real rainy days to start, experience also overflowing not cleaned drains, Cause flooded roads. Always the same. Time in, time out. No learning curve with High Way Chief, he is just ducking in now.

JohnC | 10 May 2023 - 09:22:13

Three pumps and all of them were not operational. It appears that 'preventative maintenance' is still not a common concept in Thai culture. And speaking of underpasses, why are about half of the plastic lane dividers at the Chalong tunnel missing? How is is possible for somebody to mow these down unless they are very incompetent drivers! Oh, wait....

megamind | 10 May 2023 - 01:47:50

poor maintenance is real thai style: the rest is consequences


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