After much deliberation, the Chiang Mai city council has confirmed that an inner ring road, akin to a giant roundabout, will be constructed just inside the old city square to ease traffic congestion.
“We have been searching for a solution to heavy congestion for months,” construction head, Chanarong Rokathun, explained, “This addition will ease the morning commute dramatically.”
There is, however, a price to pay. While major city gates will remain intact, many businesses and houses built on the inner side of the moat will be torn down within the next six months to make room for the newest city development.
Chiang Mai construction experts estimate 17% of what will be torn down are abandoned buildings; 24% residential housing; and 59% small businesses.
Local tenants and companies are up in arms.
The manager of Location-Wise, a new shared working space, Vanida Volare, said, “How can I relocate with only a few months’ notice? Why are we letting city planners dictate and destroy our establishments?”
The governor and the mayor refused interviews, but environmentalist Mongkut Mookjai supports the decision, “Air pollution is suffocating Chiang Mai, and it’s time to fix the root of the problem – exhaust fumes from idle songtaews and tuk-tuks.”