Bangkok removing trees to make way for underground walkways

by Reprintted from Bangkok Post

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has begun removing trees along Na Phra Lan Road to pave way for construction of an underground network of walkways in a new landscape improvement project.

The “Silpakorn Nokrob” [Around Silpakorn] Facebook page on Saturday bade farewell to 34 trees on the road, calling the decision heartbreaking for locals and conservationists.

The move is to make way for underground walkways to accommodate large crowds flocking to the historical precinct encompassing landmark attractions such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The BMA will have the trees, many of which are decades old, removed and replanted near the Memorial Bridge.

The walkway project is an initiative of the Rattanakosin and Old Cities Conservation and Development Committee to improve the landscape of Sanam Luang and the adjacent Na Phra Lan Road and Maha Rat Road. The areas are home to Silpakorn Univerity’s Wang Tha Phra campus, the Grand Palace and other must-see sites for tourists.

The project, which requires a budget of 1.125 billion baht and is expected to be completed next year, comprises three underground walkways with utility space.

Two walkways will be built under Na Phra Lan Road. One will be 96 metres long and the other 37 metres long. One will have utility space of 6,280 square metres which will include 76 restrooms for men and women. The third underground walkway, 90 metres in length, will be built under Maha Rat Road with utility space of 1,146 square metres and 35 restrooms.

Earlier, Chedha Tingsanchali, an art historian of Silapakorn University, said he is not opposed to the tunnel construction project, but he feels bad to see the landscape altered.

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