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Phuket Opinion: One way, or the other

Phuket Opinion: One way, or the other

PHUKET: The opening of the Chalong Underpass this weekend will serve as a form of victory for local officials involved in its construction. The beleaguered project has suffered an unending series of setbacks since the initial contract for works to begin came into effect on July 28, 2015 – today, an auspicious day for the nation.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 2 June 2019, 09:00AM

A truck sits jacknifed in the entrance to the Darasamut Underpass last week after crashing with no other vehicle involved does not bode well for the safety of the now-opened Chalong Underpass. Photo: Supplied

A truck sits jacknifed in the entrance to the Darasamut Underpass last week after crashing with no other vehicle involved does not bode well for the safety of the now-opened Chalong Underpass. Photo: Supplied

Work on the underpass itself began only after nearly a year delay in having power lines, communications cables and pylons moved to make way for the construction, followed by more delays in acquiring the requisite land needed for the project.

The delays embittered many local residents and business owners, especially those in Rawai, to the extent that former Phuket Democrat MP Raywat Areerob along with Chalong Mayor Samran Jindaphol confronted Norraphat Plodthong, the Phuket Governor at the time, at the Governor’s House in Phuket Town on Jan 18 last year to file a formal complaint.

Under the initial contract, the underpass was to open on Sept 14, 2017, allowing for a total of 780 days of construction, Mr Raywat pointed out.

Fed up with the situation, Mr Rayway said plainly, “Since construction started Rawai Municipality has received numerous complaints from residents and business operators about traffic jams at the construction site.

“The late construction will affect the island’s tourism economy, so we have handed this notice to the Phuket Governor to ask exactly what date construction will be finished,” he noted.

That single point did not go unheard. Businesses began going public with their complaints and Governor Norraphat started taking first-hand involvement in site inspections and making changes to speed up traffic flow past the construction site.

The rest, as they say, is history.

However, there is one point that sticks out like a sore thumb: the one lane in each direction being allowed to pass through the tunnel.

We beg the Phuket Highways Office to learn from the opening weeks of the Darasamut Underpass in front of where Central Phuket stands today.

The collisions and injuries came so thick and fast that the entire middle lane of the three-lane underpass was shut down and barriers were installed to help prevent devastating head-on collisions.

Little orange plastic poles not even one metre tall will do nothing to stave off two juggernaut tour buses from slamming into each other, nevermind the carnage that will unfold if a tour bus and a car carrying a family collide.

Phuket Highways Office, please rethink this, and make traffic flow through the tunnel one way, or the other.

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Kurt | 06 June 2019 - 10:47:59

Talking about planning on Phuket is fun. As not a single (Government) project on Phuket works out as planned. Not budget wise, and not time schedule wise.
Right? Underpasses, Chalong hospital, incinerator capacity, etc. What is government planning/working to avoid next dry season water shortest, while building now for thousands more tourists accommodation next year?  So far, zero!

Kurt | 06 June 2019 - 10:38:49

To make the last light rail station at Chalong Circle? No space, just good for traffic jams again. And, not good for Rawai community either, which should have actually also the benefit of a piece of normal public transport.  About the light rail road route 'planning', that is just to fork budgets. Wait and see what will become the real light rail track. So far nothing is cut in stone.

Pascale | 05 June 2019 - 22:03:27

"Single light rail track"0.5 lane would give you approximately 175cm of space.What kind of light rail would fit in?And the planned tracks are on Chaofa East road and are planned to end at the circle.And it's not going anywhere near Darasamut underpass too.It all shows your incompetence again.You should keep your weird ideas for yourself.

Kurt | 05 June 2019 - 13:10:47

One way direction on demand. Just directed by a traffic checking computer system that handles the green/red lights system. So simple, and so Smart. Have to start somewhere to make Phuket smart.  Will be no problem for the thai road user. They are very flexible on the road.

MichielVanKets | 05 June 2019 - 11:11:30

what a stupid idea; sure, a concrete divider would be better than some plastic poles, but to turn it in a 1 way  is just plain stupid ... stop assuming the world needs to adopt to your feelings and have some respect for the needs of others; the rawai community has suffered enough, the last thing we need is some socialist pseudo-journalist to screw it all up again ... 

Kurt | 05 June 2019 - 10:53:58

Something new came up thanks to Chalong underpass. The police has her daily Chalong Circle check times on motorbikes. ( driving license, road tax/insurance sticker/helmet). To avoid being stopped at Circle now they drive through underpass.  :-)   A safe practise as never motor cycles are stopped/blocked driving through underpasses.

Kurt | 05 June 2019 - 10:33:02

Sorry Pascale. I was not clear enough. The idea is a single light rail track in the underpass. From double track to single track in underpass, than again double track. ( if the light rail track goes further south). It is done in other smart countries. It works. So, why not here?  And in the Darasamut Underpass a single track in the, now not used, centre lane.

Pascale | 04 June 2019 - 15:52:52

Ooops!  Not draws,dwarfs of course.

Pascale | 04 June 2019 - 14:59:26

"use 0.5 lane for the light rail tram" LOL !That would make it a light rail tram for draws! Did this idea emerge while playing with your "Maerklin"railway at home?

DeKaaskopp | 03 June 2019 - 15:57:52

Good to see that most people ,according to the recent poll on here,don't agree with The PN and her humble servant{ "a great warning opinion piece"}.

CaptainJack69 | 03 June 2019 - 12:56:51

Switching lane directions will cause collisions, 'locals' are too easily confused. Opposing lanes are too dangerous, 'locals' are too selfish. Changing plans is impossible, 'locals' will lose face. SOP is to wait for a serious collision or two before announcing 'improvements', in this case that will mean fixing the underpass as one-way in one direction. Poor plannin...

Christy Sweet | 03 June 2019 - 10:43:46

Here's an idea, teach Thais how to use traffic circles. All that's needed is courtesy and a sense of civility. Oh wait, yeah... never mind.

Christy Sweet | 03 June 2019 - 10:08:50

The tropical brain, having food abundant year round, never developed a need to  plan for the future. 

Kurt | 03 June 2019 - 10:02:11

Suggestion:  Use 0.5 lane for the light rail tram. Keep 1.5 lane for road traffic.( with sufficient dividers). Adjust driving direction north or south in underpass as the traffic flows signal/demand. That can be done computerised in a smart way with the red/green signal system. Can become the first Phuket smart way project!

Shwe | 03 June 2019 - 04:32:20

Should never have been built with just 2 lanes in the first place. Typical of poor planning that is normal in Thailand

Kurt | 02 June 2019 - 12:36:48

Of course the Phuket Highway Office knows ( do they?) when the traffic flows in directions north or south around the Chalong circle are heavy or light. So, adjust a one way flow in direction needed at times. There are green and red light signal bridges, so, what could be the problem to make this underpass driving safe?
I know switching the lights is hard work as it will be not a 9 to 5 job.

Kurt | 02 June 2019 - 11:50:15

A great 'warning' Opinion piece.  But I am afraid that Officials will not re-think one second about the way how to operate the Chalong tunnel. Such would contents the infamous thai lose face element. That could 'feel' to be more important than travellers safety. However, expected carnage after all public warnings will give more lose face. What a Officialdom dilemma.

Timothy | 02 June 2019 - 11:20:47

These morons built an underpass with lanes only 3.5 meters wide??Tour busses and large trucks are typically 2.4 to 2.55 meters wide and have mirrors sticking out each side. Even if they are travelling in the same direction, it will be a very tight fit.  How will emergency vehicles/personnel access the inevitable carnage? A crash with fire. Cars packed in bumper to bumper. Deadly...

DeKaaskopp | 02 June 2019 - 10:49:07

There is no doubt about the need of separating those lanes with concrete or steel barriers,but making it one way only would turn the whole project into a complete farce.I'm wondering why PN journalists didn't look at those original plans of the underpass.The drawings were available for years now.Laziness,incompetence or to busy with "Burger Contest's"?

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