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Design for the raised Sarasin section that will allow passage for yachts

Phuket Wins New 500m Baht Mainland Link

Saturday, September 12, 2009
CONSTRUCTION has begun on a new 500 million bridge off the island to replace the Sarasin Bridge. It's going up in between the existing bridges on and off the island.

As Phuketwan reported exclusively way back in November 2007, the old bridge, renowned throughout Thailand for its romantic legend, will be improved so that masted vessels can pass beneath it, creating a viewpoint for pedestrians that is likely to become a tourist attraction.

Work began on August 1 and will take an estimated 720 days, which means vehicles should be crossing before 2012, says Suriya Juwatee, deputy director of the Phuket Highway Office.

Underneath the construction site on the Phuket side is a natural coral bed that will be moved with the help of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

Environmental impact checks and surveys have been made. The new bridge will be at the same level as the existing Thepkasattri Bridge, which carries incoming traffic onto Phuket.

Reconfiguring a 100-metre stretch of the old Sarasin Bridge will enable large-masted vessels to sail through the passage for the first time in decades.

Vast numbers of anglers usually dangle lines from the old bridge and the views across the waters that separate the island from the mainland are spectacular, especially towards the Andaman Sea at sunset.

The incoming Thepkasattri Bridge, which is 17 years old, is taller and modern in construction.

Sarasin Bridge, which cost almost 29 million baht in 1967, will be preserved and people will still be able to walk across it.

A raised viewpoint protected by reinforced glass will be added in the middle, where two lovers made their legendary leap, with steps lead up to a platform under a Sino-Portuguese style sala.

The changes will mean that Phuket will have a new iconic postcard scene to rival the beaches and the Big Buddha.

However, even in an emergency, the old bridge will no longer be able to carry vehicular traffic.

There was a lot of debate about whether the old bridge should be adapted to the needs of tourists or kept as an alternative in an emergency. Eventually, the decision was made to modify the bridge.

A Thai film has been made called 'Sarasin, the Bridge of Love' telling the story of the legendary young pair who became lovers against the wishes of the young girl's family and eventually decided that their best path to happiness was to jump to their death hand in hand from the middle of the Sarasin Bridge.

The bridge is named after Pot Sarasin, the man who organised the funding for its building. The government was planning to spend the money on a bridge in Haad Yai, but Khun Pot proved to be more persuasive.

The bridge took two years to construct. Before then, travelers had to rely on ferries to travel to Phuket.

Sarasin bridge last made news in 2006 when Phuketwan reporters watched a convoy of trucks transferring hundreds of unidentified tsunami victims off the island in the dead of night, escorted by tourist police.

The bodies were being taken from the recently closed international identification facility near the start of the bridge to a cemetery in Phang Nga, where insulated graves still house 380 of them.

The view across to the Andaman Sea is probably going to be a lasting memory of Phuket for tourists who leave the island by road.

The new bridge, two lanes across, 12.20 metres wide and 655 metres long, has yet to be named. The Highways Office is footing the 500 million baht bill.

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Comments

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" will be improved so that masted vessels can pass beneath it "
How are the masted vessels going to pass under the bridges, if the two old bridges are kept ? The masts on yachts don't just fold down for convenience, you know. This could be interesting to watch the developments here?

Editor: A section of the older bridge will be removed and raised so taller yachts can pass.

Posted by Mouse on September 12, 2009 13:46

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Brilliant idea. This opens up a beautiful sailing to the Similians from the east coast. I thinks this is wonderful news. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Posted by Mouse on September 12, 2009 15:17

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We may be surprised to acknowledge the building of a major construction of a new bridge between the mainland and Phuket Island, has been started without consulting through public hearing with local people and businesses in the tourism industry such as boat operators and marina developers.
Now, nobody knows what is exactly the new design about the new bridge and what they will do with the 2 older ones excepted that the oldest one will be open to help large sailing boats to sail north-west of Phuket rather that going around Phuket Island for a long journey.
Transparency at the beginning of any project is the best way to avoid conflict in the future.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 15, 2009 09:07


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