Mr Gardphajon was in Phuket in person yesterday (June 24) to be updated on progress on several transit megaprojects on the island, including the Patong Tunnel.
At a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Land Traffic Management of Phuket at Phuket Provincial Hall chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Vikrom Jakthee, Mr Gardphajon explained that the Public-Private Partnership Policy Committee had agreed in principle with the project.
“On May 31, the Policy Committee received EXAT’s recommendations for proceeding with the project before the plan is submitted to the Cabinet for further approval. EXAT will prepare additional information based on the opinions of the Policy Committee and we expect those to be sent to the State Enterprise Policy Office in July 2021,” he said.
Mr Gardphajon confirmed that the current plan is to construct a road with elevated sections and a four-lane tunnel through the hills separating Patong from Kathu. The road itself is to be 3.98km long and construction is expected to cost B14.47bn.
“The project is expected to commence in 2023. Construction will take four years and it will open for service in 2027,” he said.
Travelling through the tunnel is currently set to cost motorists B40 per car and B15 per motorcycle.
Regarding the “Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu Expressway Project”, Mr Gardphajon explained that the project was originally called the “Sakhu-Koh Kaew Road project” operated by the Department of Highways.
“But now the central government has assigned EXAT come into action,” he said.
“Currently, the Expressway Authority is in the process of drafting a TOR [terms of reference] to hire a consultant to study the suitability of engineering, economics, finance and the environmental impact. The feasibility study is expected to begin in October 2021,” he added.
The project will stretch some 30km, starting at the intersection of Thepkrasattri Rd with Highway 4026, which leads to Nai Yang Beach. The expressway will parallel Thepkrasattri Rd all the way through Srisoonthorn and will provide a connection with the main intersection in Koh Kaew, then continue to run parallel with the bypass road to finally connect with with Highway 4029 in Kathu, which will allow motorists to use the Patong Tunnel, Mr Gardphajon said.
“For the Action Plan of the Muang Mai - Koh Kaew - Kathu project, construction is expected to begin in 2025 and the road open for service in 2028,” he said.
Mr Gardphajon asked for patience and clear communication in explaining the projects to the public.
“There are many important projects. Each project requires a period of time to complete. For example, the process of studying the environmental impact and the EIA, and the preparation of details, requires a period of time,” he said.
“The important thing is to create awareness and communicate to create an understanding among the people in the area to be informed of the process correctly, to participate and drive the implementation of various projects, to achieve results as soon as possible,” he added.