The ‘Thai Bridge’ project, with a large investment of 900 billion baht, has been introduced by the Thai government’s committee on economic steering and aims to build a new route from the East to the South of Thailand in order to domestically expand the impact from the Eastern Economic Corridor projects (EEC).
The Eastern Economic Corridor is an ongoing series of mega-projects designed to improve the infrastructure and transportation for the Eastern portion of Thailand, especially in Rayong and Chonburi with Pattaya as a feature city. The plan also includes projects such as a high speed rail, upgrades to the U-Tapao airport (some already complete), monorails in Pattaya, a cruise ship terminal, the new Mabprachan expressway and other associated projects.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, the chairman of the government’s committee for the Mobilization of Economic Management Measures, told reporters that the ‘Thai Bridge’ project hopes to connect national transportation from Eastern Thailand to other regions in lower western and upper southern Thailand as well as to potentially open up new transport routes between East Asia and ASEAN countries in the region such as Malaysia. The specific location of the bridge would likely be in the Pattaya/Chonburi area and connect to the Hua Hin area.
The chairman said: “The prosperity levels including the tourism income between the EEC area and the other areas in the Gulf of Thailand is dramatically different. The statistics of the number of tourists is also not very competitive, for example, you compare Pattaya with Hua Hin, Pattaya has always had 10 times more tourists than Hua Hin.”
“In truth, the tourists want to travel to both cities but they choose Pattaya first partly because Chonburi has more attractions and more convenient transportation options. Many projects are also being built in Chonburi and the EEC in the coming future, such as a three-airport monorail and a city monorail which will potentially attract more travelers to the area, while none of the projects in the other tourist cities in the Gulf of Thailand were discussed.”
The ‘Thai Bridge’ is, therefore, planned to help expand the EEC prosperity to the upper Southern provinces, especially in Cha-Am, Phetchaburi and in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan. The bridge is planned to be about 80 to 100 kilometers long, which significantly shortens travel distances from as far as almost 400 kilometers in other normal travel routes.
The bridge project is also planned to connect to many provinces along the South and the West of Thailand, similar to a construction route model which has been successfully beneficial in Japan.
The large investment project has already been approved by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) and will be under a pre-feasibility study by the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Policy Committee next year.
It is fundamentally estimated at about 900 billion baht of investment which is estimated to take 10 years to financially implement, according to Pailin.
“We have to admit that 900 billion baht is a huge amount of money but it is reasonable when considering its final results. It is also cheaper than some other mega projects that are currently being accelerated. We also planned to hire local Thai people and buy local materials for the construction to reduce the cost as well,” Pailin told the press.
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