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Water coursing through Phuket's Central Festival underpass about dawn

Floodwaters Invade Phuket's Central Festival Underpass for First Time

Friday, November 6, 2015
PHUKET: Rainwater flooded into Phuket's Central Festival underpass for what's believed to be the first time today during a heavy predawn deluge.

The floods slowed traffic but did not stop vehicles proceeding through the underpass.

The north-south tunnel outside the Central Festival shopping mall is Phuket's first underpass. Having opening earlier this year, it was kept free of flooding until today.

Phuket authorities have opted to have underpasses dug instead of Bangkok-style flyovers.

Two underpasses are under construction - at the Tesco-Lotus intersection one kilometre from Central Festival and at the bypass road junction with Thepkasattri Road - with two more to begin at the airport t-junction and at Chalong Circle.

Flooding poses a new and unexpected problem at the Chalong Festival intersection with Phuket Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada just yesterday criticising massive delays in completion of the Tesco-Lotus intersection underpass.

Holdups mostly caused by inadequate drainage and frequent flooding have the project just 60 percent complete and under construction since July 2013.

Traffic takes difficult routes around the tunnel and the alternate routes become perilous if heavy rain triggers floods.

Governor Jamleran yesterday urged the project's managers to provide more lights and signs to keep motorists safe.

The latest completion date is June next year.

Underpasses at the airport t-junction and Chalong Circle - reckoned to be the most difficult dig of all - are due to begin.

Planners of the 20 billion baht light rail-tram public transport system proposed for 60 kilometres down the holiday island's spine have yet to explain how the rail lines will negotiate underpasses without reducing the existing prone-to-delays flow of traffic.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Chalong Festival intersection ?

Interestion point raised about the trams and underpasses. Something tells me this question has not been raised at any of the relevant meetings.

I truly belive the underpasses are colossal mistake, especially since the locations notorious for flooding, unlike the Central festival, are yet to be built/completed.

Ancient Greeks already understood that you build a bridge over water, not under it.

Posted by Herbert on November 6, 2015 12:49


Its sad to see this! Its a shame!

But then again, I won a bet that there will be flood in this underpass.

Posted by Mr. K on November 6, 2015 13:15


If already now a quite high level located underpass in front of Central Festival submerged, what may we expect of future Chalong underpass?
What was the reason of this Central festival underpass didn't keep is dry during this dry season?

Posted by Kurt on November 6, 2015 15:01

Editor Comment:

The pump failed.


that didn't take long

Posted by sky on November 6, 2015 15:10


Everyone knew this was going to happen... everyone except those that designed built and paid for it... shame shame shame on all of you!!

Posted by DG on November 6, 2015 15:29

Editor Comment:

A backup pump might help.


Ancient Greeks did not the the knowledge, technology, materials or machinery to build underpasses.
They also didnt use the internet, mobile phones or travel around Europe by plane. Cant understand why not?

Posted by MoW on November 6, 2015 16:02



Posted by Anonymous on November 6, 2015 16:17

Editor Comment:

The contractor you name has nothing to do with the Tesco-Lotus underpass.


@ MoW

The local planners and constructors have none of those skills either and that's why it's sure to be a failure.

Perhaps my comment was meant to suggest that even during times of modest technological advances people already understood the basics.

To build a tunnel in a place prone to flooding without first fixing the causes of flooding and relying on pumps alone is an accident waiting to happen.

The wait is over though. Rest assured, more shall follow.

Posted by Herbert on November 6, 2015 16:51


Dear ED, so now do you wanna call me Doomsayer again?.. And really this is happened previous that my worst forecast. Engineering and Thai is an oxymoron..

Posted by dave on November 6, 2015 17:35

Editor Comment:

You mean, an oxymoron like dave and adding value? It's so easy to be a doomsayer, dave, and that's what you are. A backup pump will fix this problem.


I just was thinking sme days ago passing in the underpass looking at all the garbage and dirty on the both side of the road that could close the passage into the drain that collect tha water for the pump.. No maintenance at all and this is the result..

Posted by rich on November 6, 2015 17:38


Why is it in places like London where it rains a great deal they can build tunnels including going into arguably the busiest airport in the world, LHR and I never hear it flooding but in Phuket this new tunnel floods. Would it be something to do with building it on the cheap?

Posted by Hello on November 6, 2015 17:43

Editor Comment:

These underpasses are not cheap.


Think rich has it right no maintenance or cleaning

Posted by Michael on November 6, 2015 18:39

Editor Comment:

Guesswork is always inappropriate.


There is nothing wrong with building a tunnel, even this tunnel in a place where flooding exist.
The tunnel is not collecting water from the overflow flood path, it is only collecting water from access ramps and vehicle water carry over.
From the pictures provide, it appears the water is no more than 300mm in depth and as Alan has stated, it appears the sump pump failed. This is not a deficiency in the tunnel design but a failure of auxillary services. This could be either due to rubbish build up restricting the inlet to the pump, a failure of the pump or even loss of power supply.
Many of these issues and redundancy requirements for critical infrastructure have been address in previous articles.

Just because a local area floods does not mean a tunnel is not the best solution. There is no restriction to building a tunnel as long as the local hydrological conditions are considered in the design.

During peak intensity rain, whether a tunnel or overpass was built, the access to and from either will be affected by localised flooding. The same as any other section of road.

There is an obvious negetative opinion, especially from the PW comments, that the decision to build tunnel/s is wrong and unsuitable for Phukets weather conditions. This is just incorrect and a failure to fully understand all design aspects.

The British and French managed to construct a tunnel 30 years ago in some of the most unsuitable soil conditions possible and Hong Kong has been constructing them for 50 years. They dont flood.

In reference to ancient Greece, you may find that the engineer, Eupalinos, was constructing tunnels 2,500 years ago some which still remain and are in use today. Of course they were built for the purpose of water supply as the only means they had available at that time. I am sure if suitable pipe materials were available, a different option would have been considered.

Of course any infrastructure requires maintenance and operators who understand how it works and what may go wrong. This is not a design fault or confirmation that the incorrect design was selected.

There is also some false idea that any piece of infrastructure should be usable no matter what conditions exist.

Airports shutdown during bad weather. Is this also a fault?
Ferries dont operate during rough seas. Is this because the wrong design was selected?
Cars cant drive safely on snow or ice. Is this poor design?
You also cant use you iphone while swimming but is it necessary or just beyond the limit of its design?

Posted by MoW on November 6, 2015 18:54


Maybe there will be some use for those new submarines after all.

Posted by Arun Muruga on November 6, 2015 21:27


As other posters have said, everyone knew this would happen, its only a matter of when. Unfortunately, projects in Thailand dont get proper maintenance budgets allocated so these problems occur. If I were in charge, i would cancel any further underpasses (inc the one at Tesco).

Posted by Discover Thainess on November 6, 2015 22:57


Why not build a roof in both ends of the underpass to a point where water will not run down in the tunnel. Problem solved.

Posted by retired roadworker on November 7, 2015 08:49

Editor Comment:

Nice try but water will always flow to the lowest point, rr. It doesn't always fall straight into the tunnel.


Ed, you say Nice try but water will always flow to the lowest point.
Yes Ed, but water will never run up hill.

Posted by retired roadworker on November 7, 2015 09:05

Editor Comment:

Except when it's pumped, rr.


You can have as many back-up pumps as you like but it wont help at all if the drains are blocked.

Posted by Chalongresident on November 7, 2015 12:16


Why not a pipe running from the lowest point in the tunnel to a lower point down the road
The road runs downhill towards the south
This would not be dependent on a pump or electricity supply and if kept clear of debris would never fail

Posted by Paul on November 8, 2015 07:37

Editor Comment:

Roads tend to go up and down, Paul. Pumps might be needed somewhere. And the water would end up at one of the most flood-prone parts of the road.

Sunday November 28, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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