A planned 42.9-kilometre expressway linking western Bangkok to the east has been revived but will now be diverted to the city’s north.
The government yesterday pulled the plug on a light rail project which was originally proposed as a successor to the expressway.
However, rather than revive the expressway plan as it was, the government has decided to redraw the proposed route and take it through the city’s north.
The light rail project was originally introduced to replace a controversial section of expressway near Kasetsart University.
However, the government has decided to abandon the rail project because the land appropriation costs are too high, Deputy Transport Minister Gen Prin Suwannathat said.
He said about 40 billion baht would be needed to pay for land appropriation for the light rail project. Land appropriation in the Khae Rai area also faced opposition from residents.
The railway was proposed an an alternative to a 42.9km expressway linking Bang Yai in western Bangkok to the eastern motorway project, after it ran into local opposition. The expressway was set to run along Rattanathibet Road and pass Khae Rai intersection, Ngam Wong Wan Road and Kasetsart University.
Under the route first proposed 20 years ago, the construction was to cut through parts of the university and several communities.
The government has now decided that neither can go ahead as planned.
Gen Prin said the Expressway Authority of Thailand (Exat), which planned the expressway linking the western and eastern parts of Bangkok, has now been asked to consider moving the route outside the city, possibly to the Rangsit area in northern Bangkok.
Exat governor Aiyanat Tinapai said the agency is studying a new route but will have to consult with the Highway Department and the Royal Irrigation Department.
The route would run parallel to the Rangsit irrigation canal in the northwest of Bangkok.
Highways Department director-general Chatchawan Boonjaroenkit said the department has yet to discuss the matter with the Exat. Some are worried the Exat’s revised route for the expressway scheme will overlap with the department’s road construction plans in the Rangsit area.
The department plans to expand the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road and build an elevated road linking the western ring road to the eastern ring road.
He said consultants will be hired to study the road project and the findings are expected late this year.
A source said the Exat should not rush into the expressway scheme, especially when it may overlap with the Highways Department’s plan. “It should look at a cabinet resolution on extensions of the expressway system. Roads outside the city are under the supervision of the Highways Department,” the source said.