Three motorways linking Ayutthaya and Nakhon Ratchasima, Nonthaburi and Kanchanaburi, and Pattaya and Map Ta Phut, worth a combined 160 billion baht, are set to get off the ground after the cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal by the Transport Ministry to build them this year and next.
Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the government itself would invest in the three motorways instead of allowing the public-private partnership to take part, saying the projects would take time to recoup investment returns.
The 96-km Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi road will cost 55.6 billion baht, 50.2 billion baht of which would be earmarked for construction and 5.42 billion baht for land expropriation.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) has already been completed, while land expropriation began in 2013. The project is expected to start construction early next year and operate in 2019. The project will also link Dawei special economic zone in Myanmar and Thailand's Laem Chabang port.
Mr Sansern said the 196-km Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Ratchasima route was scheduled to start construction early next year and operate in 2020.
The project is worth 84.6 billion baht, with 78 billion for construction and 6.6 billion for expropriation. It passed the EIA in 2006 while land expropriation began in 2013. The Transport Ministry plans to secure domestic loans to finance the construction of these two projects, said Mr Sansern.
For the 32-km Pattaya-Map Ta Phut road, costing 20.2 billion baht, comprising 14.2 billion baht for construction and 6 billion for expropriation, construction is expected to start this year and operate in 2023.
The project will be financed by the fiscal budget of the Highways Department.
Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said from now on the Highways Department, which will take charge of the development, would prepare the terms of reference for contractors' bids, starting with the Pattaya-Map Ta Phut project.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted investment in the three motorways would not affect the state's future fiscal budget.
The three motorways are among the big-ticket infrastructure projects the government is banking on to stimulate the faltering economy this year under its long-term infrastructure development plan.
The cabinet approved on March 27 an eight-year infrastructure development plan worth 1.91 trillion baht.
Priority developments include the double-track rail network, Bangkok's mass-transit projects, new and extended motorways, and 1.435-metre standard-gauge rail development.