The long-awaited construction of a bridge connecting Trat on the mainland to Koh Chang is likely to get the nod if it passes its second public hearing this year, according to Somkiat Samatthakan, chairman of the provincial working committee organising the hearings.
The project passed its first public hearing four years ago when 90% of Koh Chang residents said they wanted the bridge for convenient travel between the island and the mainland, especially during times of medical emergencies, said Mr Somkiat, who is also president of the Association of the Natural Resources Conservation and Environmental Protection of Trat.
Currently, residents and visitors going to the mainland must travel by ferry, which takes 30–45 minutes. The service is available from sunrise to sunset.
"During long holidays, the travel time to Koh Chang may take four to six hours because of the number of cars waiting to board a ferry," Mr Somkiat said. "It always creates traffic a few kilometres long."
The plan is to build a 10-km sea bridge from Laem Ngob sub-district on the mainland to Ban Dan Kao on the island. The provincial working committee will organise the second round of public hearings for Laem Ngob and Koh Chang residents.
Mr Somkiat said the hearings will start around the end of this month and are expected to be completed in November.
The results of the hearings will be submitted to Trat's Department of Rural Roads office, which will then use them to request a budget to commission the bridge's design and conduct related studies. If the project is approved, the committee hopes construction will start next year, Mr Somkiat said.
On long holidays, the travel time to Koh Chang may take four to six hours because of the number of cars waiting to board a ferry.