“The Highways Dept will start accepting bids from construction companies in May,” Phuket Highways Office Director Samak Luedwonghad told The Phuket News this week.
“The Bureau of Bridges Construction Department of Rural Roads in Bangkok will decide who will build the underpass. The project will cost about B500 million, which will include the tunnel, drains, footpaths, traffic lights and others costs.” he said.
“The contract stipulates that construction must not take more than 720 days, and according to the contract offered construction must start in July,” Mr Samak added.
The funds for the new underpass became available after Phuket residents voted against having two flyovers built on Thepkrasattri Rd to ease traffic congestion in their neighbourhoods, Mr Samak explained.
“The budget set aside for the two flyovers together totalled about B400m,” he said.
“So instead of those funds heading out of the province after the residents voted against the flyovers, we asked the Bureau of Bridges Construction Department of Rural Roads in Bangkok to build an underpass at the airport turnoff for about B500mn,” he said.
His office was granted approval, and to expedite the project the same design plans used for the Bang Khu Underpass currently under construction at the northern end of the bypass road are to be used.
“The same design plans as the Bang Ku Underpass will be used, and these have been already approved by the Department of Highways Bureau of Location and Design, and this helped to make the process faster,” Mr Samak said.
The project has already been approved by public hearings, he added.
“But only after the construction company has been chosen, which will take a few months, will we exactly how much the underpass will cost,” explained Mr Samak.
According to the plans, the required roadworks’ entire length will be 1.6 kilometres, and the tunnel itself will be 669 meters long.
“The tunnel will have two lanes only, and both those lanes will be dedicated to traffic travellnig northbound,” Mr Samak said.
The one-lane northbound left-hand turn at any time with care to travel to the airport will remain as it is now, he added.
“Above ground, there will be five lanes dedicated to traffic travelling southbound,” he said.
“I believe, this project will go well according to plan, and we will pay particular attention to safety with this project, especially after our experience with incidents at other projects – such as the gaping potholes in the road,” Mr Samak noted.
“Also, with this project specifically, I will order our officers here at the Phuket Highways Department to inspect the construction site often to make sure that all the construction is being done safely and in accordance with the contract,” he added.
The airport turnoff currently has no official title, but is instead simply known as the intersection of Route 402 (Thepkrasattri Rd) and Route 4026 (which heads west toward the airport).