Surat Thani: The Expressway Authority of Thailand (Exat) is preparing to study the feasibility of building a bridge linking the mainland to Koh Samui.
Exat governor Surachet Laophulsuk has visited the island to review information and inspect the proposed site for the bridge.
If the project clears the study and wins public approval, work is expected to begin in 2028 and finish two years later.
Mr Surachet led a group that delivered a lecture on the bridge project at the weekend. The session was attended by local administrative organisations, the municipal office, state offices and tourism businesses.
According to those speaking, Koh Samui is in need of a bridge connecting it to the mainland. It would provide an overland transport option in addition to air and boat links which are currently the only modes of travel to and from the island.
The forum was told that 24-hour travel back and forth between the mainland and Koh Samui is impossible when the weather is bad, especially during the rainy season.
That travel limitation works against the island's high-value tourism and the need to attend to public health emergencies. According to the forum, many residents back the bridge project.
Mr Surachet said a blueprint must first be drafted and a feasibility study be undertaken on the features of the bridge and where it will be built. This process could begin as early as March.
Once the information is ready, residents will be consulted, and they will decide if they want the bridge project to go ahead. If the project materialises, a deeper study on engineering, financial aspects and environmental impacts would take another 24 months.
This bridge project is said to be the brainchild of Wirach Phongchababnapha, Koh Samui's hotel owner, who proposed it some 20 years ago.
Mr Wirach said that the bridge would maximise the island's tourism potential, as it would reduce journey times and costs by making road travel to the island possible even during the monsoon season.
A sea trip from the mainland takes about two hours as many travellers complain of expensive airfares.