The wheelchair-accessible bridge over Sukhumvit Road has finally opened.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith cut the ribbon on the overpass near Redemptorist Vocational College and the Central Road bypass tunnel.
Kritchthep Simalee, director-general of the Department of Rural Roads, said the overpass responds to the need to improve safety and convenience for the disabled.
After almost two decades of politely requesting, pleading and protesting the local government for the bridge, it was the Minister who finally decided that the construction should take place.
Minister Arkhom was greeted by Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome, who due to a recent lower limb accident was sitting in a wheelchair, and by Father Peter Srivorakul C.Ss.R., from the Father Ray Foundation.
The 42.78-meter-long bridge includes a translucent elevator with a panel of Braille buttons, a bell, a telephone and a CCTV camera linked with the Central Pattaya control tower. A siren warning system and UPS reserve power system have also been installed at both levels of the bridge. The 14.58 million baht construction is now fully completed and open for public use.
Construction of the bridge was held up by a legal challenge from Pattaya Money Service Co., which claimed the structure would jeopardize safety for customers of its Pattaya Pawnshop. The operator ultimately lost the case, but by then Pattaya had already spent the money for the bridge on other things.
It took nearly another year for another budget to be secured, for design changes to be made, and plans to relocate water pipes and utility lines drafted. Another year of delays followed as the tunnel neared completion with authorities not wanting to do both projects at the same time.
Before and after the opening ceremony the Transport Minister took time to meet with the students with disabilities at the Father Ray Foundation and also with local people with disabilities, and he discussed ways of how his department can work together and learn from those who have disabilities to improve the quality of life and accessibility for all.
The new bridge is located outside the entrance of the Foundation, in between Index and Boonthavorn, and has an elevator for easy access for wheelchairs, those with mobility problems, the elderly and people with young children.