Transport Ministry continues public hearings on Highway 7 extension

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The Transportation Ministry continued its series of public hearings into a 35.7 billion baht expansion of Highway 7, which would extend the motorway to Buraphawithi.

The Oct. 15 session at the Ambassador City Hotel in Najomtien was the latest in a string of hearings into the project, which already heard opposition from residents of Sak Ngeaw, which would be sliced in half, and Laem Chabang, where locals are opposed to even more traffic to the port and nearby industrial estates.

Officials hold another public hearing on the plans to extend Highway 7. Officials hold another public hearing on the plans to extend Highway 7.

Ministry Permanent Secretary Gen. Vichien Pojpotsri said the seven year project would begin in 2013 and help connect Thailand’s biggest port with the main seaport in Myanmar in preparation for both countries’ entrance into the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

“The Ministry of Transport has place a priority on Chonburi’s development by pushing the transport projects to solve issues and sponsor tourism,” Vichien said.

Plans call for construction of a six-lane expressway from Buraphawithi following the route of current Highway 34 with bypasses constructed in Chonburi, Sriracha and Laem Chabang. The work on what is now considered the Nongkham-Laem Chabang Highway will allow drivers coming from Nongkham to turn right into Sriracha and Pattaya-bound drivers from Laem Chabang to use a new U-turn bridge under the Nongkham-Laem Chabang Highway.

Plans also call for a doubling of the existing four lanes, with toll booths added at Bangphra, Nongkham and Pong. Construction will be divided in five phases.

However, the project also runs through sections of Banglamung currently covered in residential properties and locals in Sak Ngeaw have threatened to sue to block construction unless changes are made.

Plans call for extending the highway to the busy Maptaput Industrial Estate, giving logistics companies and exporters a shorter, faster route between Laem Chabang Port and the capital. As proposed, the highway would run from Pattaya through the west side of Mabprachan Reservoir, Huay Yai, Sak Ngaew, the eastern side of the Mabfakthong Reservoir, across Rural Road No. 331, the eastern side of Khao Chi-Aon, Ban Chang area and terminate at kilometer marker 192 on Highway 3.

In doing so, Sak Ngeaw would be cut in half, putting half of the current homes under the overpass.

Public hearings are scheduled to continue.