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Thailand’s first underground road tunnel in the making

Feasibility study on the project to be formally submitted to Transport Ministry in March

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has said he will push for the construction of Thailand’s first road tunnel under the Chao Phraya River in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in the capital city.

The two-way, four-lane 8.7-kilometre runnel, 7.5km of it underground, would link Narathiwat Road to Samrong Road at the Bang Na Intersection through the Chalerm Maha Nakhon Expressway, allowing cars to avoid cutting through the inner city to reach Eastern Bangkok. This should alleviate traffic congestion in Sathorn, Bang Rak, Rama IV and nearby areas.

The project report including details on feasibility, construction design and the initial budget required would be submitted next month to the committee on land transport system management chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

Saksayam spoke about the project after his meeting on Thursday afternoon with Deputy Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (MLIT) Hideki Hirai who provided Saksayam with an update from the Steering Committee on Narathiwat-Samrong Rroad Tunnel Project.

The MLIT had joined with the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) – whose director Chayatham Phromson was also present at the meeting – in conducting a feasibility study for this project.

The study covered a  physical survey of road, the estimation of capital needed and the construction costs, current traffic volumes and the project’s potential impacts for improving traffic condition in future, and the guideline for project implementation including a possible use of Public Private Partnership (PPP) to finance the project. The MLIT is to submit the project feasibility report to the OTP and the Transport Ministry in March.

Saksayam also took the opportunity to urge the MLIT to consider how, if the project were to go ahead, construction could affect traffic flows and pressed the OTP to carefully study the details to prevent any dispute in future, as the tunnel would link to another infrastructure project under a private sector concessionaire.

 

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