The Patong Tunnel will drill under the infamous hill that just about every tourist has to go over at some stage to get to Patong Beach. The windy road, up and down the hill, has been the scene of hundreds of fatal incidents with motorcycles, cars, trucks, vans and fully-loaded tour buses using the same patch of dangerous road.
Efforts to establish a tunnel under the steep hill have been under discussion for more than 2 decades with countless false starts, environmental assessments, artist renderings and committees formed – all to end, so far.
But, after all the delays, Thailand’s cabinet has now approved the 14.7 billion baht budget to construct the expressway connecting the Kathu district with Patong Beach. This tunnel is expected to help decrease car accidents, offer a quicker and safer route for locals and tourists who want to visit Patong Beach, and support the province as an emergency evacuation when a disaster, like a tsunami, happens.
The 3.98 kilometre expressway, including the 1.85 kilometre tunnel, will have four traffic lanes with one designated for motorbikes. The Expressway Authority of Thailand expected that the project will start in 2023 and finish around July of 2027.
The patch of road has become famous for its endless series of ‘brake failures’ when drivers used the same excuse over and over again for the thousands of incidents each year. Whilst the latest news of a cabinet approval will be met with a lot of local enthusiasm, the project has had many missteps along the project’s tortured journey which spans more than 20 years.
HERE’S one story about the project’s approval back in 2011.
And ANOTHER one from 2009.
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