Even before its opening, comments by local residents spiralled online over the width of the lanes and the fact the traffic will be flowing through the tunnel in both directions without any solid dividers to help prevent head-on accidents.
The lanes, at 3.5 metres wide, are “international standard,” Phuket Highways Chief Somwong Lohanut assured.
The only thing separating traffic from a head-on collision are small plastic orange police just 80cm tall, despite tour buses and other large vehicles being allowed to drive through the tunnel.
Worse, as Mr Somkiet also pointed out, Chalong Underpass is the only underpass on the island that has a curve in the tunnel underground, reducing motorist’s range of visibility even if there are no vehicles immediately in front. (See story here.)
To this, The Phuket News asked readers, “What should be done with the current dedication of traffic flow through the Chalong Underpass in order to make it safer?”
Only 3% of respondents voted “Make the traffic flow in one direction from north to south”, and a further 3% voted “Make the traffic flow in one direction from south to north.”
A further 6% voted “Make the traffic flow in one direction – in either direction, but one direction only – but change the direction to suit when it is needed the most”, which was one suggestion floated by officials.
However, a clear majority of 59% voted “Keep the tunnel two-way, but install solid dividers to help prevent head-on collisions.”
A further 19% of respondents voted “Ban all heavy vehicles from using the tunnel”, and a surprising 10% voted “Do nothing. It is already as safe as it should be.”
For the full poll results, click here.
If your preferred response was not available in the poll, feel free to add it in the comments section below.