Govt pushes mega motorway plan

Govt pushes mega motorway plan

Seeks clear roadmap for 8-route scheme

The Transport Ministry is calling for a detailed course of action to implement a master plan to construct eight new motorways that will run parallel with rail routes, to better improve transport links with neighbouring countries.

The eight routes proposed at yesterday's meeting between the Department of Highways (DH), the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and other state agencies have a combined length of 4,930 kilometres.

The meeting was chaired by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.

The proposed routes are grouped into two clusters, namely the North-South line and the East-West line.

The eight selected routes were included in a master plan presented and discussed at yesterday's meeting.

The North-South line will comprise three routes, namely a motorway stretching 1,660km between Chaing Rai and Songkhla, a 490km highway from Nong Khai to Laem Chabang in Chon Buri province and another 470km road from Bung Kan to Surin.

The East-West line will comprise five routes, a 710km motorway between Tak and Nakhon Phanom, an 880km link between Tak and Ubon Ratchathani, a 310km motorway between Kanchanaburi and Sa Kaeo, a 220km highway between Kanchanaburi and Trat, and a 190km road between Phuket and Surat Thani.

A detailed action plan for the network as well as the designs for the new motorways are expected in one year, Mr Saksayam said after the meeting.

Construction of three minor sections of these eight roads are expected to begin in 2022 and 2023, in a pilot phase, he said.

These sections would be Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen-Nong Khai, Nakhon Ratchasima-Buri Ram, and Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon, he added.

Two possible investment options being considered to pay for the scheme are a public-private partnership (PPP) investment or raising funds through the Thailand Future Fund, a state-backed infrastructure fund, he said.

Permanent secretary for transport Chaiwat Tongkamkoon suggested the PPP investment format looked the most suitable choice in this case as the project will require substantial funding.

Land expropriation for this project is also being discussed, Mr Saksayam said, adding he personally agrees with an idea to have all the required land expropriated at once to avoid problems later in the process.

Other than space for construction of the motorways, more land is also needed for associated real estate and commercial development to create new cities and townships along these new motorway routes, he said.

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