Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh
presides over the meeting at City Hall.
The free ride for drivers using the Pattaya-Chonburi
Highway is coming to an end as the Department of Transportation announced
plans to charge tolls in three places along the 58-kilometer expressway.
At an Oct. 17 meeting at Pattaya City Hall presided over
by Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, department consultant Sorn Pinaksornkul
said three toll booths, one each at the Pattaya interchange near the
Regent’s School, the Laem Chabang interchange and Bangpra interchange are
expected to go into service within three years. The money collected will be
used to pay off construction already begun to widen the highway and expand
it in the port area.
The Pattaya-Chonburi Highway is a portion of Highway 7
connecting Chonburi Province with Bangkok. It has been free to use since its
opening. Sorn said Pattaya residents are most concerned about the imposition
of tolls along the eight kilometers of the highway that connect to Sukhumvit
Road and dramatically shorten the commute time to the capital.
The toll system project will take several years to
complete, Sorn said, as it includes the construction of new U-turns,
concrete barriers and the booths themselves, as well as installation of the
toll-collection system, which will rely on cards to meter fares.
Sorn said the Sukhumvit section of the expressway would
still be exempted from tolls until all road improvements are complete.
Noting the importance of Highway 7 to the local port and
logistics industries, as well as the nation’s export-driven economy, Sorn
classified the road improvements not only as necessary, but measures that
will increase safety for drivers.