PHUKET CITY: The Highways Department is studying the possibility of building a flyover or tunnel to relieve traffic congestion at the Darasamuth School Intersection near Central Festival Phuket.
The first in a series of five planned public hearings on the issue took place at The Metropole Hotel on Thursday morning.
The Highways Department has included the project in its 10-year development plan from 2007 to 2016.
First phase work on the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is already underway by project consultants Thai Engineering Consultants (TEC) Company Ltd.
As part of the EIA process, four more public hearings must take place by the end of June, 2010.
Attending Thursday’s hearing were government officers, local businesspeople and residents.
Khasame Srivaranun, who heads the Phuket Highways Department survey, construction and planning division, said the first meeting was simply to introduce the project to the public.
Four alternative structural plans for a flyover or tunnel are under consideration, he said.
His agency has been informed that land expropriation ‘was not an option’ in the area, which has some of the highest land prices on the island.
“We are studying all engineering, environment and funding aspects and we will listen to all public comments. If the people of Phuket do not want this project, it will be canceled,” he said.
Among those commenting on the project was Phuket Energy Office Director Jirasuk Tummawetch.
“I agree with the project. It will support our ‘Green Phuket’ initiative by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it will also reduce fuel costs because there will be less traffic congestion in the area,” he said.
The owner of the newly-opened Dara Hotel, which is very close to the proposed project site, said he was strongly opposed to the plan.
“It will kill my business. Please reconsider whether this project will bring more harm than good,” he said.
One attendee who identified himself as a resident of the Samkong area of Phuket Town was just as strongly in favor.
“This project will reduce accidents and reduce commuting time,” he said.
Frequent flooding on sections of the bypass road showed the need to have a good drainage system included in the project design, he said.
Another participant described the project as ‘useless’ due to the ever-growing number of cars on Phuket roads.
“In five or ten years the streets will be jammed again. The more roads we build, the more cars we use. I think it would be better to develop a mass transit system,” he said.
Members of the public are invited to share their views by calling the Bangkok-based TEC Company Ltd on 02-1959120 (x310).
— Pimwara Choksakulpan
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