At the meeting, organised by the Highways Department, attendees were presented with two options for providing U-turns near the Baan Yee Teng Intersection on Thepkrasattri Rd, just south of the Heroines Monument.
The U-turns are considered much-needed in alleviating traffic jams in the area and are part of a project that aims to install U-turn flyovers over Thepkrasattri Rd both in Koh Kaew and in Mu Dok Kaew just north of Thalang Town. (See story here.)
The options presented at the public meeting on Friday were for residents in Koh Kaew to either: 1) have two flyovers built to act as U-turns; or 2) have U-turns on the ground.
The attendees voted their support for the latter, saying that ground-level U-turns would be cheaper and that not having the U-turn flyovers would look better for the area.
Present at the meeting was Thalang District Chief Adul Chuthong, who explained to those present, including local residents, that the meeting, that it was important to gain feedback – and approval – for the project as it affected people living in the area.
“It is important because construction of this project will be close to the ancient sites and places important in history,” he added.
The meeting was the second such public meeting to be held as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project. EIAs are required by law for all major projects affecting communities.
The previous EIA had to be discarded as it did not raise the fact to the public that the proposed U-turn flyovers at Koh Kaew were to be built near sites of historical value.
One of the sites is Ban Phraya Wichit Songkram, located some 800 metres south of the Heroines Monument. Registered as a National Heritage Site in 1985, the location features the stone wall remains of the formal residence of former Governor of Phuket Phraya Wichit Songkram (That Rattanadilok Na Phuket). The house was built and fortified in response to the ‘Ang Yi’ Chinese miners rebellion in 1876. (See details here and here.)
The other site of historical value is the Thalang National Museum itself, located only some 280m directly southeast of the Heroines Monument in Soi Lak Mueang 1, and operated by the Ministry of Fine Arts. (See here.)
“Only after starting this project have we learned that the two sites are within one kilometre of the flyover. We didn’t realise this until local people filed their complaint. So we are compiling a fresh EIA, as required by law,” Phuket Highways Office Chief Somwang Lohanut explained to The Phuket News in November last year. (See story here.)
At the meeting on Friday, Phuket Highways Office Deputy Chief Pichak Sornchana presented the plans drawn up by Consultants of Technology Co Ltd and City Plan Professional Co Ltd – both hired to conduct the EIA appraisal for the flyovers.
The Koh Kaew flyovers were to be one lane each and about four to six metres wide, with a 1.5m emergency lane and half-metres wide shoulder on the right side of the lane.
Other measurements given for the flyovers were much more precise. The flyover reversing traffic flow from southbound to northbound was to 315.282m long and the “mirror-flyover” for people heading northbound wanting to U-turn to head southbound was to be 299.292m long.
To make the flyovers possible and extra 10m of land on both sides of the road needed to be appropriated, expanding the full width of Thepkrasattri Rd at that point from 40m to 60m, Mr Pichak noted.
However, the plans for the ground-level U-turns required much more land to be appropriated, he explained.
Building the flyovers would require the road area to be widened to 30m either side of the road’s “centre axis”. Creating ground-level U-turns will need the full road width to be expanded to 35m either side.
In total, the ground-level U-turns will need 10.7 rai of land beside the road to be acquired, he said.
“This is so the U-turn lanes can be big enough to allow large vehicles, even semi-trailers, to make U-turns in a fully separated U-turn lane so that motorists can make U-turns safely and uninterrupted, without causing any delays to traffic passing by,” Mr Pichak said.
After the options were explained, the opinions, feedback and suggestions from those present were recorded and are to be included in the EIA to be submitted for the project, Mr Pichak noted.