Travelling to Koh Samui from mainland Thailand will be cheaper and more convenient in the future once a bridge connecting the island to Khanom in Nakhon Si Thammarat province reaches completion. The bridge is expected to open for service in 2029.
Consulting companies are currently bidding on the huge project which is estimated to cost 25 billion baht. The winner will be chosen in April 2023.
The Koh Samui – Khanom Bridge was approved by transport minister Saksayam Chidchop in July this year.
The chosen company will have one year to study the feasibility of the project and submit an environmental assessment report in 2024. Once the assessment is given the green light, construction of the 17 kilometre bridge could begin in 2025, according to the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT).
Construction is expected to take four years. The bridge could open for service in 2029.
“Initially, we will go to the area and take a survey and listen to the opinions of local people. We will also study the possibility of joint investment from the private sector. Then, we will complete an environmental assessment report (EIA) to submit for approval by the end of 2024.”
EXAT said they hope to use a public-private partnership (PPP) model due to the high cost of the project. If EXAT invests the entire budget themselves they won’t have anything left for other projects, they said.
At present, it is possible to travel to Koh Samui by boat or by plane only. Plane tickets to the island’s small airport can be pricey and get booked up fast. Bad conditions at sea often see ferries and boats cancelled, making access to the popular island paradise difficult on occasion.
Introducing a third option – a bridge – so tourists can arrive by car could be monumental in maximising Koh Samui’s tourism potential.
EXAT said they are considering two models: a suspension bridge or a cable-stayed bridge. The bridge will connect the Khuan Thong subdistrict in Khanom district to Koh Samui’s Taling Ngam subdistrict.
Koh Samui is bustling with foreign and Thai tourists for the new year holidays. Airlines have had to increase flights from Bangkok to facilitate them all.
Daily News reports that tourists on the island are expected to pump 5 billion baht into the economy over the festive season.