Thai motorway network
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The Thai motorway network (th:ทางหลวงพิเศษระหว่างเมือง) is an intercity motorway network that currently spans 145 kilometres (90 mi). It is to be greatly extended to 4,154.7 kilometres (2,581.6 mi) according to the master plan. Thailand's motorway network is considered to be separate from Thailand's expressway network, which is the system of expressways that are usually elevated within Greater Bangkok. Thailand also has a provincial highway network.
The Thai highway network spans over 60,000 kilometers across all regions of Thailand. These highways, however, are often dual carriageways with frequent U-turn lanes and intersections slowing down traffic. Coupled with the increase in the number of vehicles and the demand for a limited-access motorway, the Thai Government issued a Cabinet resolution in 1997 detailing the motorway construction master plan. Some upgraded sections of highway are being turned into a "motorway", while other motorways are being purpose-built.
Motorway route 7
Motorway route 7 stretches all the way from Sri Nakharin Road in Bangkok, passes Motorway route 9 (Kanchanaphisek Road), Suvarnabhumi Airport towards Pattaya nearly 150 kilometres (93 mi). It exists separately in two sections. The toll section has eight exits, namely Rom Klao, Lat Krabang, Bang Kwai, Bang Bo, Bang Pakong, Phan Thong, Chonburi, and Bang Phra. There is also a rest station and highway police center at kilometre 50. The free section of this route (former highway route 36) towards Pattaya is completed. There are also highway widening projects aimed at increasing the capacity of this route to eight lanes. Currently, sections of this route from Sri Nakharin Road to Chonburi are eight lanes wide.
Motorway route 9 (Outer Ring Road, Kanchanaphisek)
Motorway route 9 also known as the Outer Ring Road or Kanchanaphisek Road is a limited-access highway or motorway that links the outer fringes of Greater Bangkok. The eastern and southern route is toll section, which extends from Bang Pa-In through Lam Lukka, Ram Inthra, and met Motorway route 7 at Thap Chang interchange. The southern section of this motorway was completed in November 2007 which joined Bang Na-Trat Highway (Route 34) and Rama II Highway (Route 35). A project to widen the currently four-lane motorway to eight lanes is in progress. Thailand now has two operational motorways.
The western route is free section, which extends from RamaII Road (Route 35) at Bang Khun Thien through Bang Khae, Chim Phli, Bang Yai, Bang Bua Thong, Pathum Thani, Sam Khok and met Phahon Yothin highway (Route 1) at Pratunam Phra-In interchange.
All expressways are tolled, as are some sections of motorway (Don Muang Tollway). Other motorways are free of charge.
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Motorway Master Plan
Motorway route 5
Motorway route 5 designates the motorways heading north, which is the equivalent of Highway route 1. According to the Intercity Motorways Office, Motorway route 5 will stretch 755.6 kilometres (469.5 mi) towards Chiang Rai passing through Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Lampang, and Chiang Mai. Currently, there are plans to convert sections of an existing highway into this motorway route but construction plans are still vague.
Motorway route 6
Motorway route 6 designates the motorways heading northeast, which is the equivalent of Highway route 2 Highway route 2. This route is supposed to stretch from the Outer Ring Road or Motorway route 9 towards Nong Khai totaling a distance of 535.5 kilometres (332.7 mi). This route is to pass Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen before reaching Nong Khai. Realistically, however, the section between the Outer Ring Road and Nakhon Ratchasima seem the likeliest to be built first.
Motorway route 7
Motorway route 7 designates the motorways heading east, which is the equivalent of sections of Highway route 3 Highway route 3. This motorway has been recently extended by about 100 kilometres (62 mi) to reach Pattaya and the master plan indicates a desire to extend the route all the way to Chantaburi via Rayong, or 291.9 kilometres (181.4 mi) from Bangkok.
Motorway route 8
Motorway route 8 designates the motorways heading south, which is the equivalent of sections of Highway route 3 and Highway route 4. The master plan indicates that this route is to be extended from the Outer Ring Road towards Songkhla. It is also the longest route, totaling 951.4 kilometres (591.2 mi). Currently, due to heavy congestion on main highway towards the south, the plan to build a section of this motorway from the Outer Ring Road towards Cha Am in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is steadily heading forward.