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Protesters win: bicycles will be big on the mangrove forest flyover

Phuket Wins Wichai Way Mangrove City Flyover

Friday, December 3, 2010
Protest Flashback Photo Album Above

PHUKET'S contentious and long-awaited mangrove forest flyover at Saphan Hin has been given the go-ahead, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha announced yesterday.

The 140 million baht road bridge, now also to include Phuket's first bicycle-only track, will be built at a height of three metres above a 600-metre stretch of mangroves near the Saphan Hin public park in Phuket City.

The decision in Bangkok by a special environmental committee to allow the project brings to an end 15 years of green-versus-go debate and achieves the greatest wish of former Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob, who retired this year.

He mixed a love of nature with a perception of Phuket's desperate need for proper road infrastructure.

The Saphan Hin flyover enables the large park, two big schools and university facilities to be accessed more easily from southern Phuket, providing a direct route from eastern Phuket City to Sakdidet Road and Chalong.

Building is expected to begin next year and to be complete before 2012, opening up the prospect of the realisation of Governor Wichai's Phuket ring road.

The next move could be the widening to four lanes of the narrow soi that now links the Saphan Hin park with Nimit Circle in eastern Phuket City.

Approval of Phuket's mangrove flyover came after application of a special exception for Phuket to national laws designed to protect mangrove forests around Thailand.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued notice of the exception to the blanket ban on building in protected mangroves mid-year, making Phuket the sole province authorised to build on mangroves.

Under the new regulation, Phuket won permission to use mangrove forests for projects that bring ''public benefit''.

Local residents were intent on bulldozing their own path through the mangroves earlier this year but officers from the Natural Resources and Environment Department arrested the driver before he reached the site of the large public protest.

The mangroves in the area, which is near the Saphan Hin waste incinerator and Phuket's giant rubbish ''mountain,'' are said to be degraded.

Another of Governor Wichai's road projects, the link from Phuket City's bypass road to Surakul Stadium in Phuket City, is due to be completed next week.

Time may yet bring approval for his Phuket ''ring road'' and two other projects: the direct route from Chalong to Patong across Phuket's hilly backbone and the duplicate second highway from Phuket City to Phuket airport that would largely follow the route of existing powerlines adjacent to Thepkasattri Road.

Bicycle tracks have been proposed for parts of Phuket, especially alongside canals.

The presence of a bicycle-only track on the flyover is the first real indication that action may be coming to suit a growing number of people who prefer non-motorised transport.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Right Bikes only! Who is going to stop the motorbikes from using it? Right now they use every possible sidewalk they believe will give them an advantage over other traffic and no one stops them.

Posted by mike on December 3, 2010 18:56


good reporting khun OI and i feel it will make life easier to gain access to sapan hin well done always a pleasure to read th

Posted by Anonymous on December 3, 2010 22:35


Great news. The connection is badly needed and the bridge should leave the mangroves reasonably undisturbed.

I do have to agree with mike though - bike lanes will be instantly overrun by motorbikes unless a drastic change in the Traffic Police work ethics is forthcoming.

Let's wait and see.

Posted by Chris on December 5, 2010 11:53

Editor Comment:

There are chutes used elsewhere that permit bicycle access yet restrict motorcycles. Any bicycle-only paths on Phuket would need plenty of them.

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