Public tells Pattaya to hit brakes on Dolphin Roundabout replacement

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Pattaya residents told city hall to put the brakes on plans to replace the Dolphin Roundabout with traffic lights, saying more study is needed.
Pattaya residents told city hall to put the brakes on plans to replace the Dolphin Roundabout with traffic lights, saying more study is needed.

PATTAYA – Pattaya residents told city hall to put the brakes on plans to replace the Dolphin Roundabout with traffic lights, saying more study is needed.

City officials met Aug. 15 at the Sabai Resort with business leaders, former Pattaya workers, and former city council members to gather opinions about the demolition of the landmark traffic circle and creation of a four-way intersection.

The views were not what Pattaya leaders wanted to hear.

As has been the case every time removal of the roundabout has been suggested over the past 20 years, the public objected, calling it a historic landmark that, if operated correctly, serves its purpose.

Roundabouts have been scientifically proven to be more efficient and safer than conventional intersections. They allow more cars to pass through at a time and studies have shown they reduce injury and accidents by 75 percent.

Pattaya, however, has broken the proven traffic solution by barricading some of the lanes, making it impossible to circumvent the rotary. Once the barriers went in, traffic woes worsened.

Pattaya officials are convinced there are now too many people in Pattaya for a roundabout, despite the fact they’re specifically designed for high-volume traffic areas. So they’ve budgeted 6.9 million baht out of the government to build an intersection while trying to soothe the public’s anger by saying the dolphin statue will be relocated, not removed.

The public isn’t buying it.

Panchote Sonkom, the Engineering Department director who actually designed the Dolphin Roundabout more than 20 years ago, said city hall repeatedly retained the traffic circle even after installing traffic-light intersections elsewhere in the city because it handled the traffic without issue.

He said more study is needed and that city planners needed to create a model and factor in additional traffic that might come from the future opening of the Terminal 21 shopping mall on Soi Phettrakul.