However, Mayor Chalermluck confessed that she did not know which part of the comprehensive plans had yet to be approved.
“The studies and design for the project were concluded last year, but the EIA study has yet to be approved,” said Mayor Chalermluck.
“It is a large project that has required a lot of time to conduct studies to cover a wide range of issues. I am not sure which area of the project that has not passed the EIA this time,” she said.
“But my office will be notified of what needs to be done and how to improve the plan to make it environmental friendly, and we will make those adjustments.
“We will keep public updated on this as soon as we get some information from the EIA approval body,” Mayor Chalermluck added.
The news of the Patong tunnel project stalling comes as local residents in Patong’s Baan Mon community are calling for some action by officials to prevent tour buses and trucks from crashing into buildings in their neighbourhood, where children play on the streets. (See story here.)
The call for action follows yet another tour bus crashing at the bottom of Patong Hill on Monday night. More than 30 Chinese tourists were taken to hospital after the driver brought the bus to a halt by ramming the vehicle into the perimeter wall of Wat Patong. (See story here.)
Plans to build a tunnel through the hills separating Patong from Kathu and Phuket Town have been bandied about for more than a decade.
The Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) made the first real advancement when along with former Patong Mayor Pian Keesin the government agency proposed the tunnel in 2011.
Since then, EXAT has been leading the charge, working to find the best operational ideas for the tunnel and learning new and different construction techniques. (See story here.)
The latest plans aim to build a four-lane expressway from Phra Meita Rd (off Phang Muang Sai Kor Rd) in Patong, with two lanes for cars and two for motorbikes.
The first 900 metres of the expressway from Patong is planned to rise above Phisit Koranee Rd, where the Baan Mon community currently remains in danger from runaway tour buses and trucks, to a tunnel through Patong Hill.
Toll stations are to be located at the end of the raised carriageway in Kathu, where the tunnel road will join Route 4029. The total length of the raised expressway is planned to be 3.98 kilometres.