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History of Sukhumvit Road

The most important road in Thailand is named after the most important road builder ever to have lived in the country.  Born Phrapisalsukhumvit or Phra Bisal Sukhumvit he was carrying on a family tradition as he was the son of Phraya Yomarat or Phraya Suckum Nayavanit as he was later known, who in 1906 became the Acting  Minister of Public works.  Although of humble origins the father Phraya Yomarat rose rapidly in the court and in public office taking great responsibility for the infrastructure of the growing country.

It was natural then that his son Phrapisal Sukhumvit, born 2442 (1899 C.E.), would be educated well in such matters and indeed was the first Thai national to earn a degree from the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Engineering in the United States.

He rose to prominence rapidly although he started "at the bottom" with an entry level job in the department of highways. After proving is skills by leading many projects of road and highway building around the country, overcoming not just practical and engineering difficulties, but also those arising from conflict with rural populations and entrenched traditional views, he rose rapidly to leadership.  Eventually being named named the 5th Chief of the Highways Department.

During the World War II he was one of the leaders of the Free Thai movement and after the war he was also part of the delegation to the United States, with which he was familiar from his University days, after World War II to gain support and assistance in the modernization of the country.

 

Originally completed in September 1936 the road was originally called Krungthep-Samut Prakan Road, and completed its path from the existing Ploenchit Road in Bangkok all the way to Trat, close to the boarder with Cambodia.  Passing through Chachoengsao , Chon Buri, Rayong and Chanthaburi along the way it brought transport from the south to the metropolis and opened the way for commerce, as well as better supplies of food into the growing city.

After the war he moved into a house on Sukhumvit soi 34, and it was in December 1950 that the road was renamed in his honor.

The decision to build the original road was taken under the leadership of the Prime Minister Pridi Banomyong and soi 71 is named after him in thanks.  Today the Prime Minister has an official residence at soi 39.