Three days after it began, it was over. One-way traffic will not, at least for now, be coming to East Pattaya after city officials abruptly dropped its Sukhumvit tunnel congestion-relief plan in the face of a vehement protest by more than 100 residents.
The idea was that making Soi Siam Country Club and Soi Nernplabwan eastbound-only and sois Khao Talo and Khao Noi westbound-only routes would push some of the Sukhumvit Road traffic back onto the railway-parallel road, easing pressure on the highway during the next three years of construction of the Central bypass tunnel.
Residents gather debate with police and city officials, and in the end put a stop to the East Pattaya one-way traffic.
But the plan, which also blocked traffic from crossing the train tracks at Nernplabwan and Siam Country Club and required U-turns at Soi Nongyai 7/5, quickly turned chaotic, with more than 100 officers trying to reroute frustrated drivers, and retailers along the new one-way routes fuming over what turned out to be a marked decrease in traffic.
Just 24 hours after the plan began Feb. 25, more than 100 shop owners rallied, claiming their businesses would be ruined and demanded traffic flow be returned to normal. City officials set up a meeting with them Feb. 28, a session that turned into a three-hour argument, with Pattaya administrators urging residents to have more patience and steadfast locals threatening to barricade the entrance to North Road if they didn’t get their way.
Fearing that a street protest that blocked access to a crucial traffic artery would trigger intervention by the military – as it would violate martial law – city officials gave in and ended the one-way system.
So, 77 hours after it began, it was over. Pattaya officials – realizing Sukhumvit Road will grind to a halt when construction detours are combined with holiday traffic – went back to the drawing board March 3 to discuss what they would do next.