Bahrain - Around 25 per cent of the work on a major arterial thoroughfare in the heart of the capital that will include two flyovers and an underpass has been completed.

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf yesterday signalled the go-ahead for work on the underpass near the Gudaibiya Palace as part of the BD40.5 million revamp of Al Fateh Highway.

He was accompanied on the site visit by Bahrain Chamber chairman Sameer Nass, senior ministry officials, consultants and site engineers.

The highway that links the bustling areas of Juffair, Ghuraifa, Adliya, Gudaibiya, Umm Al Hassam and Mina Salman, currently has a traffic flow of 87,000 vehicles per day.

The proposed revamp, one of the largest roadwork projects in the country, is set for tentative completion in March 2024.

It would see capacity increased to 140,000 vehicles per day once completed.

“The 24.9pc progress of work indicates that we could finish before due time in March 2024,” said Mr Khalaf.

“This is taking into account complications associated with drilling work for the underpass that would reach 11 metres in depth, protecting the existing highway, less disruption of traffic flow and ensuring safety for all including the 470 workers on site,” he added.

“We respect the outdoor work ban in July and August and workers will not be on site from noon to 4pm; however, we are still looking at an earlier finish timeline.”

The minister pointed out that an agreement had been reached with the contractor and consultants in March this year to not shut down the highway’s lanes as work progresses.

The plan is to close associated entrances and exits, within particular areas, to lower commuter waiting times and likely congestion.

Finished sections will be opened as soon as durability and strength tests have been completed, he said, confident that the complete closure of the thoroughfare was unnecessary.

A large number of major ground services have been carried out since 2018 to ensure there was no conflict with the major expansion works and upgrading of the junction.

“Additionally, we have completely constructed the main sewage water line extending from Juffair to Al Ghuraifa.

“The project aims to improve the capacity of Al Fateh Highway by 61pc.”

Mr Khalaf said the ministry had completed the construction of all the piles and piers of the U-turn flyover, and that the process of constructing it is proceeding according to schedule and is expected to open to traffic by the end of this year.

“The construction of piles for the additional left-turn flyover for traffic heading towards Prince Saud Al Faisal Highway has also begun, in conjunction with the required traffic diversions to provide work space,” he added. “The left-turn flyover is set to be opened to traffic in the first quarter of next year.

“Additionally, secant piling works are in progress in preparation for the underpass excavation and structural works.”

The highway upgrade project ranges from the entrance to Exhibition Avenue in the north to Mina Salman interchange in the south.

“This includes the development of Shaikh Daij junction, Al Fateh Islamic Centre junction and the Dulab junction, with the aim of providing seamless traffic movement in both directions,” explained Mr Khalaf.

“The main work of the project includes the expansion and upgrade of the highway to four lanes in each direction for more than three kilometres.

“We will also build an underpass with three lanes in both directions with a length of 595 metres at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa junction for traffic between the north and south, in addition to a signal-controlled junction at ground level.”

The one-way left-turn flyover will have two lanes for people coming from Manama from the north on Al Fateh Highway towards Prince Saud Al Faisal Avenue, while cancelling the junction of Al Fateh Highway with Shaikh Daij Avenue to provide free traffic movement.

“The construction of a U-turn flyover, with two lanes near the entrance to Al Fateh Corniche, will allow northbound traffic to turn towards the south.

The main work of the project has been awarded to a joint venture between Nass Contracting Company (Bahrain) and Huta Hegerfeld Saudi Limited (Saudi Arabia) at a cost of BD29.7m financed by Saudi Fund for Development, where the project’s earlier stage began in April 2021 with a duration of three years, including the new flyovers and underpass, through supervision of Parsons Engineering Consultancy. BD10.8m was used to knock down part of the Gudaibiya Palace’s wall, remove services and partial acquisition of private property.

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