The death sentence has been handed down for Pattaya’s Dolphin Roundabout, which will be replaced with a four-way intersection, although the landmark sea mammal will remain.
Pattaya spokesman Pinit Maneerat on Aug. 9 confirmed long-circulating rumors that the traffic circle soon will be history. Plans are underway to install traffic lights and, somewhere, a new home for the dolphin statue.
Pinit acknowledged the considerable public sentiment for keeping the landmark traffic circle, which has sat at the junction of Beach, Second, North and Naklua roads for more than 20 years. But the signal-free interchange has become too much of a traffic bottleneck and has to go, he claimed.
No date has been announced for its removal.
While Pattaya officials and traffic police complain about the congestion steaming circling the roundabout, they actually have only themselves to blame.
Roundabouts have been scientifically proven to be more efficient and safer than convention intersections. They allow more cars to pass through at a time and studies have shown they reduce injury accidents by 75 percent.
Of course, those studies were done in the West where drivers are better educated and policed. Thailand, by contrast, has the second-highest road-death toll in the world.
Pattaya’s solution to the dual problem of careless, aggressive drivers and poor traffic policing was to insert a large barricade into the roundabout, thereby making it impossible to circumvent the rotary. Once the barriers went up, so did congestion.
Rather than blame their own poor engineering or insufficient traffic enforcement, authorities claimed there are now too many people in Pattaya for a roundabout, despite the fact they’re specifically designed for high-volume traffic areas.
Chaowalit Jirayanyong, head of Pattaya’s Traffic and Transport Design office, said the city will now spend up to 7.1 million baht to rip out the roundabout and create a four-way intersection with traffic lights.
City officials plan to hold a public hearing on their idea before announcing a timetable for the traffic circle’s replacement.