Kuwait

Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Causeway ... one of the world’s longest bridges.

Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Causeway ... one of the world’s longest bridges.

New causeway is a marvel

June 2019

The Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Causeway, which holds the distinction of being one of the world’s longest bridges and amongst the largest civil engineering projects, made global headlines when it opened for traffic last month.

The importance of the project could be gauged from the fact that Kuwait’s Amir HH Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, was joined by South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, President of the French Senate Gerard Larcher and other senior state officials for the inauguration.

The causeway is part of Kuwait’s integrated development plan as the artery linking Kuwait City with the proposed Madinat Hareer (Silk City), considered the future financial and commercial centre of the country.

The project also involved the construction of two artificial islands.

The project also involved the construction of two artificial islands.

It’s a key milestone in Kuwait’s 2035 vision and also coincides with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The immediate impact of the bridge is a significant reduction in commuting time between Kuwait City and the Subiya area – which will host the Silk City – to 20 minutes from an hour before.

The architectural and engineering marvel spans 37.5 km across Kuwait Bay, and starts from the intersection of Al Ghazali Highway with Jamal Abdel Nasser Street at the port of Shuwaikh to Al Subiya Highway ending at the new Subiya city at northern Al Joun.

Construction procurement for the project was on a design-and-build basis. Dar Al Handasah, supported by SSH as its local consultant, was appointed to undertake a review of the contractor’s design and site supervision services.

The landmark project was built by Korean building giant Hyundai Engineering & Construction (Hyundai E&C) after it jointly won a $2.62-billion contract in November 2013 along with local company Combined Group, beating fierce competition from global construction companies.

The project consisted two components: the $2.4-billion main causeway or the Al Subiya Link, a 27-km-tall bridge to facilitate ships passing to Al Doha port, across a shipping lane passage 120-m wide and a navigational opening 23-m high; and the 4.7-km-long Doha Link, costing $544 million, which included five 725-m-high bridges and a 7.7-km-long sea bridge, three traffic lanes and a safety lane in each direction.

Construction of the Doha Link portion of Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Causeway was completed in January 2019.

The project, built with over 1,500 pillars, also involved the construction of two 330,000-sq-m artificial islands, one near Kuwait City and the second near the town of Subiya to provide maintenance, emergency services and coastguards patrolling the bay leading to a 6-km-long coast. These two islands have now been opened up for investment (see Regional News).

 

Construction overview

The project was Hyundai E&C’s largest overseas civil engineering project since the Libyan Great Manmade River Project in 1984. The construction period was 66 months, and a ‘fast frack’ method was adopted to carry out design and construction simultaneously.

The core of the project is the main bridge, a 340-m section of which was constructed as an asymmetric hybrid cable-structure and which required high-level design and construction work, says a spokesman for Hyundai E&C.

“The cable-stayed bridge, which typically connects the bridge deck and tower with cables, is a common construction method often used in large-scale bridges, but it is not common to build a hybrid long-span bridge in asymmetric form,” he adds.

The main bridge was designed to model a ship’s sails, connecting cables only to one side of the tower. In addition, various safety tests were conducted to ensure it can withstand the high temperature of the desert, seawater and strong winds.

The tower model experiment was carried out by renowned foreign designers, while Hyundai E&C’s R&D Centre conducted the wind tunnel test along with leading Korean universities to enhance the safety of the bridge.

The full span launching method (FSLM) was applied to the superstructure of the marine bridge on which vehicles will pass.

The FSLM construction method involves installation of precast box girders in sequence. About 1,000 precast box girders – 17 m wide, 4 m deep and 60 m long –were manufactured, one in two days, at a separate manufacturing site and moved to a specific location on the sea.

“In order to install 1,800-tonne precast box girders – the world’s largest – using FSLM, various special heavy equipment, including a floating crane and launching gantry, was manufactured and the appropriate installation method was applied according to the depth of water.

 In particular, Hyundai E&C designed and constructed the electrical and telecommunication work for a 132-kV substation and eleven 11-kV substations, along with the intelligent transport system (ITS/Scada) for all sections of the causeway – the first of its kind to be introduced to road construction in Kuwait.

Various systems (accident detection and speed cameras, traffic control CCTVs, overload control system and bridge monitoring system) have been provided to control and maintain roads and facilities.

A beltway was set up at the border of the islands, allowing people to enjoy the views of Kuwait City and the Arabian Gulf.

Citing challenges, the spokesman says the first was the weather since the project was being constructed offshore. Then there was the scorching heat, which would exceed 50 deg C during summer.

“Under these circumstances, the on-site staff carried out construction work in two shifts a day in order to meet construction deadline promised to the client,” he says.

A total of 1,160 pillars with diameters of 2.5-3 m at 40-60 m intervals at sea were erected for the main bridge’s foundation work, while modular reinforced concrete base pillars with a maximum length of 70 m were installed on the seabed. This resulted in shortening the construction period and assuring quality, the spokesman says.

Furthermore, about 1,000 bridge decks, 40-60 m in length, were produced at the manufacturing site in north Subiya and moved to sea using special equipment, straddle carriers, transporters and working craft (barge).

 

Sustainability

Hyundai E&C made extraordinary efforts to minimise environmental impact resulting from construction on Kuwait Bay, using eco-friendly construction methods and state-of-the-art project management.

Special environmental ecological blocks were designed and manufactured to protect sea creatures and to create alternative habitats, while artificial islands were built, taking into account the path of seawater to and from Kuwait Bay.

“The environmental protection activities of Hyundai E&C have been praised by the Kuwaiti Environment Public Authority, and they have been extensively reported by local media,” says the spokesman.

He adds: “Since it was a ‘super-large project’, project management was also thoroughly implemented. The application of state-of-the-art BIM prevented delay in processes.”

In addition, high-resolution CCTVs were installed at important sites to efficiently manage long construction sections and to monitor work anytime and anywhere using computers or mobile phones.

“Photos of the entire construction progress for each section were taken on a regular basis using drones. This helped all staff at the construction site, including site managers, discuss their tasks through video and understand the construction progress, thus enabling efficient management of construction,” the spokesman concludes.  




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