Local Infrastructure – Some Qualms & Some Praise
Some may remember about six years or so ago when the city decided to cut down all the tall, lovely palms that draped over Dongtan Beach. I personally never saw the point of this as they really posed no danger to anyone and made for a beautiful vista along the shoreline.
Well, they seem to be at it again. Not with the palms this time, but with the big, lush trees all the way down Jomtien Beach Road. When they started cutting down all of these beautiful old trees at the far end of the beach I had hoped they would have stopped at Soi Chaiyapruek. Unfortunately they seem to be taking this course all the way to the start of the beach. These trees provided not only a beautiful green addition to an otherwise fairly uninspiring beach road, but now all of the great shade has been taken away from the parking areas and most of the beach itself. This really is a crying shame and I hope there is some greater wisdom here that seems to have escaped me.
The city’s efforts to seemingly improve Jomtien would be much better spent improving Jomtien Second Road. This years-in-the-making project seems to have been all but abandoned as the sidewalks and road median are teaming with weeds and grass that make the road look 20 years old. This is compounded by the garbage that is strewn all over the roads and sidewalks even in the busier areas from Soi 7 up to Thappraya and there is zero lighting turned on farther down the road making for some very dangerous night-time driving. At least traffic lights have now been implemented and turned on (for now, anyway) at the Watboon and Chaiyapruek intersections.
There are several thousand – yes, several thousand – new condominium units that are due to be completed in the next few years in Jomtien, many of which are located in and around the Jomtien Second Road area. This is undoubtedly providing the city with untold millions of baht in revenue. In order to preserve this area and make it attractive to the people who have invested their hard-earned money in these projects, it should be the city’s duty to do something about how untidy the area has become. If these areas are kept untidy, hence unappealing, this development will most certainly ease off and the revenue stream will, in turn, come to an abrupt halt.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of travelling throughout this amazing country and am always surprised at how clean most of the small towns and cities are. Small towns with a population of maybe 20,000 have meticulously cleaned city centres and high streets. The roads are well maintained and also seem to be upgraded on a consistent basis. How is it possible that an area that unofficially boasts a population in the hundreds of thousands as well as millions of tourists each year cannot seem to maintain just a handful of main roads?
On the other side of the coin, the widening of Pattaya Beach Road and the widening of the beach itself has been very impressive. I wrote of this proposition last year and predicted over a year of madness. It has actually been quite the opposite with progress moving forward at a rate I have never seen in Pattaya before. At the time of writing, the road and new pavement was finished almost up to Royal Garden Plaza with only a few hundred metres left to go. At this rate they’ll have completed well ahead of high-season and hopefully traffic will flow much better – as well as providing Pattaya with a more attractive central beach area.
Also, kudos to city hall for making the change to a one-way system coming in and out of Pattaya 2nd Road from Thappraya and Pratumnak Roads. The flow of traffic has improved greatly, particularly on evenings and weekends.
In other positive news – a couple of months old now, but seems fitting to this article, the high speed rail link is a go! I’ve been yammering on about this for years, possibly hoping that my positive juju will somehow appease the rail gods and provide us with this great addition to the eastern seaboard. It seems that now it is finally becoming a reality with KhunChula Sukmanob, director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning announcing that Pattaya will have a high-speed railway linking us to Bangkok by 2018. The rail would travel at around 250 km per hour and would make each city accessible to the other in less than an hour. It isn’t clear at this point exactly where the rail links would be set up, but I would assume a station in North Pattaya with a possible extension to Jomtien in the years following. Bidding for contractors is set to begin in September 2013 with completion set five years from then. This addition seems to all but guarantee Pattaya’s continued growth for many years to come, particularly if there are sub-stations between here and Bangkok around the industrial estate areas.