State of Play: Ambitious Plans for Bridge Building in the Gulf Range from the Longest Viaduct in the World to a Major Suspension Bridge

Transportation links are among infrastructure projects planned in the Gulf region. Data suggests that hundreds of smaller bridge structures and twenty major bridge projects have a total estimated value of $20,000 million (US). These include a 2.5 km-long suspension bridge over the Straits of Tiran that is part of a 23 km-long road bridge linking Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the Gulf of Aqaba. The bridge will support 1 m-diameter Saudi crude oil pipelines in addition to motor vehicle traffic. A cost estimate for bridge construction, expected to be performed on a build-operate-transfer basis, is $3,000 million (US) and bridge per-user toll $60-70 (US). In addition to usual traffic, four million pilgrims are expected to use the bridge annually. A major engineering challenge is the extreme sea depth. Political issues are even more challenging. The project has been under consideration for approximately 20 years, but actual implementation is expected soon. The author also discusses other bridges. Once the 40 km-long Friendship Bridge, which will connect Qatar and Bahrain, is completed, it will be the longest in the world, but a relatively low number of vehicles are expected to cross it, almost too few for economic feasibility--bridge implications are largely political. The government of Dubai is the leader of bridge building in the Middle East, earmarking an estimated $1,000 million (US) for bridge building, since its economic future may be negatively impacted if nothing is done to ease its overwhelming traffic congestion. Dubai Creek, which is crossed by an estimated 16,000 vehicles each hour, should be crossed by an estimated 43,000 an hour by 2020. A 51 km metro system is also being planned along a viaduct system. A temporary floating bridge will reduce pressure on the existing 19 bridge lanes currently available through three bridges while six major new bridges are built. By 2010, 90 new bridge lanes should be available. In Abu Dhabi, the congestion crossing to Abu Dhabi Island has prompted construction of three major bridge projects, including the 1,455 m Saadiyat Bridge linking Abu Dhabi Island with Saadiyat Island. Kuwait is planning a $3,000 million (US) 22 km-long causeway across Kuwait Bay to connect Subiya with Kuwait City. The Landbridge mega-project being performed by Saudi Railways Organisation is discussed, which will involve a 1,000 km freight railway connecting Jeddah with Dammam. Features include a high-speed rail link between Medina and Makkah. Finally, Wadi Abdoun Bridge construction in Amman, Jordan, is underway, and will connect two city districts separated by a valley.

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  • Accession Number: 01051703
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 30 2007 10:03AM