Jomtien Beach Road one-way plan stopped before it begins

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Pattaya officials abruptly canceled plans to turn Jomtien Beach Road into a one-way street, citing possible tourist confusion during high season.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh announced on Nov. 13 – the day after the one-way system was supposed to begin as a one-month test project – that the new traffic plan was dropped due to the anticipated start of construction of a subterranean Central Road bypass under Sukhumvit Road.

Nearly two kilometers of Sukhumvit will be affected during the initial phase of construction, which had been expected to start this month. One lane of traffic will be closed and drivers encouraged to use alternate routes, including the railway access road, Thepprasit Road and Soi Chaiyapruek in Jomtien Beach, Ronakit said.

Jomtien Beach Road seen from Dongtan Police station - officials cancelled plans to convert the road to one-way, at least until after the high season.Jomtien Beach Road seen from Dongtan Police station – officials cancelled plans to convert the road to one-way, at least until after the high season.

Soi Chaiyapruek would receive all the southbound traffic that would normally flow on Beach Road if the Jomtien traffic plan had been implemented.

Ronakit and Pattaya Police admitted the city does not have enough traffic officers to manage the Sukhumvit detours and the fallout from the change to one-way, so the plan was dropped.

Neither the start of tunnel construction nor the onset of high season was a surprise, however. Local officials who announced the one-month, one-way test Aug. 26 knew both were coming. But the project was approved anyway in October during a closed-door meeting between Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho and local officials, police and businesses.

If implemented, traffic would have flowed one-way from the Hanuman curve to Soi Chaiyapruek Road, a distance of two kilometers. Traffic would have moved south toward Sattahip and loop at Chaiyapruek Road. Northbound traffic would have run along Jomtien Second Road. There would be only three wide and five minor sois providing connections between Beach and Second roads.

Sakchai justified the idea at the Aug. 26 meeting by saying the move – done decades ago on Pattaya Beach Road – would double the number of lanes vehicles can use and allow tour buses, minivans and taxis to stop without blocking half the traffic lanes.

Attendees at that meeting – who included residents, minivan operators, the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association and Prasert Jaikla, of the 14th Military Circle – raised numerous objections to the proposal.

They pointed out that, unlike Pattaya, where Second Road is located relatively close to Beach Road, the main connections between Jomtien Beach and Second roads are the much-longer Chaiyapruek and Bunkachana streets. That, they said, will make transit times much longer and more difficult.

The road clearly was not ready for the change. On Nov. 13, Beach Road at the Hanuman intersection was littered with cars parked illegally on both sides of the street, presumably residents from a 30-story condominium there.

Tourists on Dongtan Beach said they were relived the change was not made, as they would have had to take a taxi through Jomtien Beach and back along Second Road, costing them time and money.

Others said it would have caused more traffic and congestion on side streets.

Another problem is that the road from Soi Chaiyapruek to the Lung Wai Restaurant is narrow and still used as two-way road, which would have caused a severe traffic jam. Moreover, the drainage pipe-laying project on Chaiyapruek Road has not been completed, causing its own traffic woes.

Officials said they will meet again with police to better plan the one-way idea, although they said it likely would return in early 2015. However, the tunnel project will run for the next three years and high season doesn’t end until April.