Free ride on Highway 7 coming to an end

Friday, 04 November 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 44 By  Phasakorn Channgam

The free ride for drivers using the Pattaya-Chonburi Highway is coming to an end as the Department of Transportation announced plans to charge tolls in three places along the 58-kilometer expressway.

At an Oct. 17 meeting at Pattaya City Hall presided over by Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, department consultant Sorn Pinaksornkul said three toll booths, one each at the Pattaya interchange near the Regent’s School, the Laem Chabang interchange and Bangpra interchange are expected to go into service within three years. The money collected will be used to pay off construction already begun to widen the highway and expand it in the port area.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presides over the meeting at City Hall. Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presides over the meeting at City Hall.

The Pattaya-Chonburi Highway is a portion of Highway 7 connecting Chonburi Province with Bangkok. It has been free to use since its opening. Sorn said Pattaya residents are most concerned about the imposition of tolls along the eight kilometers of the highway that connect to Sukhumvit Road and dramatically shorten the commute time to the capital.

The toll system project will take several years to complete, Sorn said, as it includes the construction of new U-turns, concrete barriers and the booths themselves, as well as installation of the toll-collection system, which will rely on cards to meter fares.

Sorn said the Sukhumvit section of the expressway would still be exempted from tolls until all road improvements are complete.

Noting the importance of Highway 7 to the local port and logistics industries, as well as the nation’s export-driven economy, Sorn classified the road improvements not only as necessary, but measures that will increase safety for drivers.

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