Thailand’s Highways Dept wants to build five motorways

The Highways Department will propose to the new government the construction of five motorways at a cost of Bt180 billion.

The department’s director-general Veera Ruengsooksriwong said yesterday that the new inter-provincial motorways would cover a distance of 700 kilometres.

Initially the target completion date was 2017, but given the heavy investment required, that target has been adjusted to 2021.

According to a study by the department, the investment could be made through three options: public-private partnerships (PPPs), the department’s existing fund financed by tolls on Route 7 from Bangkok to Chon Buri and the Eastern Outer Ring Road, or a new infrastructure fund.

Veera said the first of the planned five new motorways would run from Bang Pa-in to Nakhon Ratchasima via Saraburi, which should be funded on a PPP basis at a cost of Bt60 billion.

The department has studied the pros and cons of the plan before submitting it for the Transport Ministry’s consideration and then Cabinet approval. If the project is given the nod, it can be used as the investment model for other routes.

The Bang Pa-in-Ratchasima route is the one most ready for investment in terms of the details of the construction plan, land expropriation, and the environmental impact study.

Veera said that according to the department’s preliminary study regarding investment on the first route, the government had three options, investing either 20, 30 or 40 per cent of the cost of construction and land expropriation. The most feasible option is the second one, and granting a 45-year concession to the private operator.

The four other proposed routes are Chon Buri-Pattaya-Map Ta Phut; Bang Yai-Nakhon Pathom-Kanchanaburi; Nakhon Pathom-Samut Songkhram-Cha-am; and Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Sawan.

In 1997, the Cabinet approved the department’s 20-year master plan to construct 13 inter-provincial highways totalling 4,150 kilometres and with nationwide coverage. However, only two routes were constructed – Bangkok-Chon Buri and the Outer Ring Road.

The department held a public hearing on the inter-provincial highways yesterday and the findings will be used to adjust the project’s master plan and development plan.

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/Dept-wants-to-build-five-motorways-30162009.html