The barriers in front of Muang Phuket School will be removed first, Thongchai Chuchoet, project engineer of contractor Civil Engineering Co Ltd, confirmed to The Phuket News this afternoon.
“After that, we will see whether the traffic is better or not and then we will remove the barriers at other locations to help relieve traffic congestion,” he said.
However, the move counters lane changes made only on Monday (Mar 5) that were hoped to fast-track ambulances past the tailbacks, which regularly reach up to 1.5 kilometres long.
“The big problem now is the traffic jam,” Mr Thongchai said. “One side wants more space to drive, one side wants a special route. We want to do everything for everyone, but we can’t.
“So now the thing we can do is widen the traffic surface so that the traffic problem will reduce. We will follow the order from the Governor. We think that if there is more space, the traffic will be better for everyone,” he added.
Asked about the lane changes made on Monday, Somkiet Yimpong, Project Engineer at the Phuket office of the Highways Department, explained to The Phuket News yesterday, “We are concerned about the ambulances. All we have now is Traffic Police helping to manage the traffic in the rush hour so the traffic can flow better.”
The changes on Monday allowed ambulances to use the same access in the centre of the road used by dirt trucks and other vehicles requiring unfettered access to the construction site, hence allowing ambulances a faster path past the site in order to reach the Chalong Hospital Accident & Emergency Centre located on the north side of Chalong Circle.
Those changes have now been undone in the hope that better traffic flow for everyone will be enough for ambulances as well.
“Now we trying to rush the construction to reduce the traffic problem,” Mr Somkiet explained.
“In about four months the traffic will gradually reduce. After we have completed building the retaining walls and the roof of the tunnel, we will move the barriers so that the traffic surface will become even wider,” he said.
In the meantime, Civil Engineering Co Ltd project engineer Mr Thongchai suggested that drivers use Soi Suksan 1 as an alternative route to avoid traffic jams past the site.
“Even though it is a detour, it’s better than being stuck in the traffic jam,” he said.
However, for Rawai Municipality ambulance driver Nuttapol Kaewpraju, that might not be enough.
“Traffic at Chalong Circle is a problem for ambulances as it causes long delays,” he said.
“I’m very worried about the patients we have to transport. The traffic at Soi Suksan 1 is very slow because there is only one lane, which means the cars in front of the ambulance cannot clear the way to let us through.
“In some cases, even though we are an ambulance, we have to wait for up to 20 minutes to get past Chalong Circle,” he said.
– Jirarat Rakjamroon