Five years after Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome proposed building traffic-bypass tunnels under Sukhumvit Road, construction finally is scheduled to begin later this year.
Itthiphol announced April 3 that years of debate and studies are finally over, with the Department of Rural Roads releasing the first funds for the construction that will create three years of construction havoc on the main artery into the city.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome talks about the plans to begin intersection tunneling later this year.
Drivers dreading the detours may be able to take solace in history, however: It’s not the first time the mayor has said construction was scheduled to start. The mayor previously announced start dates in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Central-Sukhumvit junction bypass – which calls for four subterranean lanes to be built under the busy intersection to separate through and downtown Pattaya-bound traffic – features a roofed roadway, 1,900 meters long, running from Pornprapanimit Road, under Sukhumvit and ending on Central Road.
Only 420 meters of the roadway would be covered. The 20-meter-wide roadway will have air ventilators, drainage, security cameras and a fire extinguisher system. There will also be a U-turn constructed on top of the tunnel with an island adorned with dolphin sculptures.
Additional bypasses are planned under Sukhumvit Road intersections with North, Central, South and Thepprasit roads. Planning has already begun on all sections, which each measure 1,000-2,000 meters long. Construction on the Thepprasit tunnel also will begin during the three-year period, the mayor said.
Itthiphol said the budget to hire a contractor has been approved and the city is now taking bids. A final decision is expected by May. Once a contractor is hired, he said, a meeting will be held with relevant agencies on the construction plans.
The mayor said the emphasis will be on minimizing inconvenience to drivers and Sukhumvit business owners. Detours and alternate routes will be well marked and another route through Nong Plalai will be available to bypass Sukhumvit entirely, he said.
“Personally, I believe that the construction will only affect only two traffic lanes,” Itthiphol said. The first phase of construction will see the median island removed and the far-left lane, now used for parking, dug up. That will leave three lanes of traffic, he said.
Business owners and customers will need to find other places to park and drivers are encouraged to use shortcuts and alternate routes, the mayor said.