Thap Lan tunnels face disruption after heavy rainfall and flooding damage

Picture courtesy of Thai PBS World

The recent flooding in Prachin Buri have left a trail of damage in their wake, particularly impacting Thap Lan tunnels. The Department of Highways has been assessing the aftermath now that the waters have subsided. The twin tunnels, integral parts of Highway 304 connecting Khao Yai and Thap Lan national parks, were rendered impassable due to heavy rainfall over several days.

The Kabin Buri highway’s section head, Chalermpol Kumthong, highlighted that the tunnels and the Highway 304 section linking to them were shut down in the morning but resumed operating by Thursday afternoon.

A thorough inspection conducted by Chalermpol’s team revealed nearly half of the installed lightbulbs were defunct, requiring immediate replacement. Additionally, certain stretches of a five-kilometre fence were severely damaged, necessitating urgent repairs to avert wildlife and vehicle accidents.

Chalermpol also alerted that despite the water level at Thap Lan Reservoir falling by ten centimetres since Thursday, authorities remain on high alert due to the continuous water flow from the mountain. Rainfall on the mountaintops poses a risk of the tunnels being flooded again.

Prawatsart Janthep, the chief of Tab Lan National Park, provided some insight into the flooding. The tunnels on Highway 304, which runs parallel to a canal, were designed not to obstruct the water flow. However, the unprecedented levels of rainfall led to water overflow from two nearby canals and flash floods from the mountains.

Prawatsart pointed to the concrete construction of some parts of the highway fence as a potential cause for blocking the water flow from the mountains to the canals. A collaborative initiative between the national park and the Highways Department is underway to redesign the fence.

Furthermore, Prawatsart suggested dredging the canals to increase their water storage capacity before they flow to the Prachin Buri River. This is not the first instance of the Khao Yai-Thap Lan tunnels being flooded. In November 2020, a heavy downpour led to water levels rising to 1.5 metres, resulting in the tunnels’ closure to traffic, Bangkok Post reported.

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Thailand News

Atima Homtientong

Atima is a dedicated news writer living in Bangkok. With a degree from Mahidol University, she focuses on reporting key issues and happenings around the country. In her off time, Atima enjoys writing and producing music.

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