Sharq Crossing construction to commence in 2015 (Updated)

Work on a 12km series of underwater tunnels and bridges connecting the new Hamad International Airport, Katara Cultural Village and the West Bay financial district is to get underway in 2015, government authorities have announced.

Some five years after the idea of the Doha Sharq Crossing (formerly Doha Bay Crossing) was conceived, Qatar is now moving forward with the project, and aims to open the crossing by 2021.

It is working with Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and US-based Fluor Corp., the program management consultant that has been hired to supervise construction.

In a press conference today, Ashghal dubbed the venture “one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken in the Middle East.”

Along with dramatically altering Doha’s waterfront skyline, the Sharq Crossing – which will be capable of handling 6,000 vehicles an hour – is expected to take some of the pressure off existing roads. According to Ashghal president Nasser Bin Ali Al-Mawlawi:

“This is not a mere architectural masterpiece of bridges and tunnels. This will alleviate traffic jams on the Corniche and adjacent main roads.”

However, a feasibility study prepared by consultants at COWI Gulf said the crossing “alone will not solve the traffic problems in Doha, and there will be a need to further strengthen the road network in Doha” as the population and car ownership rates increase.

Al-Mawlawi repeatedly declined to discuss cost forecasts of the project, telling Doha News that the project “is still in the early stages.” However, previous estimates of the complex engineering feat put the price in the billions of dollars.

The crossing consists of three bridges, ranging in length from 600 and 1,310 meters, linked by 8km of subsea tunnels.

Calatrava, a Spanish structural engineer whose has also designed a series of three bridges that span the Trinity River in Dallas, Texas, first created the concept of the crossing in 2011, at the behest of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning.

In April, his initial designs went viral after someone posted them on YouTube:

Ashghal said the bridge connected to West Bay will be located between the Sheraton and Four Seasons hotels and consist of a two-deck arched structure that incorporates a recreational park accessed via an elevated walkway and funicular cableway.

The Katara entranceway will be between the cultural village and the St. Regis Hotel, while the Al Sharq Bridge will connect to Ras Abu Abboud Street near the new airport.

The tunnels, which will be off-limits to vehicles carrying heavy goods, will include three-lane expressways in each direction, running between HIA and West Bay. The tunnel between West Bay and Katara will be two lanes in each direction.

Al-Mawlawi said the project would create between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs. The next year will be spent preparing more detailed designs as well as pre-qualifying companies to work on the project.

He said the size of the project means the construction work is likely to be broken up, with three firms each responsible for one bridge.

Residents can view the designs themselves over the next few days:

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