Exat mulls North expressway

The Expressway Authority of Thailand (Exat) is considering a plan to build a new expressway between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.

Exat governor Aiyanat Tinarpai said a feasibility study would be conducted to assess the plan.

It could link up with roads in Myanmar and China, which would better connect Thailand with other Asean nations to boost trade and tourism.

The expressway link could help increase the number of tourists from China, many of whom enter via Myanmar through Chiang Rai, he said.

In the other direction, the expressway opens the possibility of making a trip through northern Thailand, Myanmar and China in just one day.

Exat would consult with the Department of Highways before planning the exact route of the expressway, he said.

Exat plans to pay for the feasibility study with funds from the 2014 budget. Exat could fund the project on its own or invite private investors to take part as well, he said.

Meanwhile, Exat also plans to build express customs-clearance passages at each of the four border checkpoints in Songkhla, Nong Khai, Tak and Chiang Rai, he said.

Songkhla's Sadao border checkpoint would probably be the first site for one of the express crossings, Mr Aiyanat said.

Each of the four express crossings would be 3km long and will be used to expedite the transport of goods, he said.

A one-stop customs clearance service would be provided at the new crossings to make the customs procedure more efficient, he said.

A feasibility study on the new checkpoints should begin in fiscal year 2014 and the construction should take about one year, he said.

Exat has also signed a contract with a consultant to plan an expressway in Phuket linking Krathu municipality to the Patong area.

The expressway will cost about 6 billion baht to build.

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Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
Position: Reporter