King Fahd Causeway

The King Fahd Causeway (Arabic: جسر الملك فهد‎, Jisr al-Malik Fahd) is a causeway connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The idea of constructing the causeway was based on improving the links and bonds between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Surveying of the maritime began in 1968, and construction began in 1981 and continued until 1986, when it was officially opened to the public.

History

In 1965, the desire to construct the causeway began to take form officially when Shaikh Khalifah ibn Sulman Al Khalifah of Bahrain paid a courtesy visit to King Faisal and the king expressed his wish to have the causeway constructed. In 1968, both countries formed a joint committee to assess the financial undertaking required for the task. As a result the World Bank was requested by the committee to contribute their assistance in methods of implementation of the mammoth-sized project. This required taking into account the environmental and geographical aspects of the Saudi-Bahrain region. In the summer of 1973, King Faisal, in a meeting which included Amir Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa as well as the then prince, Fahd bin Abdul Aziz and Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, suggested that committee overlook the economic and financial aspects of the project and concentrate on the actual construction of the causeway. In 1975, the World Bank submitted its study and advice after seeking assistance from specialist international expertise in studying the geographic, environmental factors and maritime currents. In the spring of 1976, during a visit by King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz to Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the two monarchs agreed to set up a ministerial committee from the two countries to work on the implementation of the project.

On 8 July 1981, Mohammed Aba Al-Khail, the then minister for Finance and National Economy of Saudi Arabia and Yousuf Ahmed Al-Shirawi, the then minister of Industrial Development in Bahrain signed an agreement to start construction on the maritime causeway. On November 11, 1982, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz and Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa unveiled the curtain off the Memorial Panel in an official ceremony attended by the leaders of the GCC states for work on the project to commence. On 11 April 1985, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa pushed the button required to install the final part of the box bridges thereby finally linking Saudi mainland with the island of Bahrain.

On 26 November 1986, the causeway was officially inaugurated by King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz and Shaikh Isa bin Salman as the King Fahd Causeway.

As of 2008, it is estimated that number of vehicles using the causeway is about 45,000 on weekdays and up to 60,000 on weekends. The total number of travelers across the causeway from both countries in the year 2008 was 17.7 million passengers, or an average of 48,600 passengers per day.

Construction details

The project cost a total of US$1.2 billion (SAR3 billion). One of the major contractors of the project was Ballast Nedam, based in the Netherlands. The four-lane road is 25 km (16 mi) long and approximately 23 m (75 ft) wide, and was built using 350,000 m2 (3,800,000 sq ft) of concrete along with 47,000 metric tonnes of reinforced steel. The causeway is constructed in three segments starting from Saudi Arabia:

Border station

The Border Station is located on embankment No.4, which, with a total area of 660,000 square meters, is the biggest of all embankments. The buildings of King Fahd Causeway Authority and other government Directorates were erected on the Border Station, as well as two mosques, two Coast Guard towers and two 65 m (213 ft) high tower restaurants. The border station also has extensive landscaping all around the islands in addition to the services and road stations.

The Border Station was designed as two connected islands, where the west side is designated to Saudi Arabia and the east to Bahrain. The Saudi side of the Border Station has outlets of McDonald's & Kudu.

Expansion

On July 6, 2010, Saudi newspapers quoted King Fahd Causeway Authority chief Bader Abdullah Al-Otaishan as saying that the King Fahd Causeway was to undergo a major expansion projected to cost $5.3 million. It was announced that the number of departure lanes would be increased from 10 to 17 and the number of arrival lanes from 13 to 18 on both sides. The renovation includes construction of a commercial center on the Bahraini side.

“It will have a number of restaurants, coffee shops, a grocery shop, telephone stalls and a shop to meet travelers’ needs,” said Al-Otaishan. “We saw that there was a need for such a center to assist travelers.” Bahrain has become the "Eldorado" for Saudi citizens, a place that they can drink alcohol and enjoy the company of female dancers and the like. With points where there can be climate controlled washrooms and meeting places, the average traveler can be facilitated better. He said work is under way and the center will be completed by the first quarter of next year. A Bahraini health center is also being built to serve travelers and causeway staff. “It will feature an emergency room and ambulance to serve whoever is using the causeway — travelers or employees,” he said, noting a Saudi health center is also planned for 2011. A security checkpoint will be set up near the Bahraini entrance of the causeway, in addition to the one near the Saudi entrance. “It will allow us to control the causeway and close it,” Al-Otaishan said.

The project also includes expanded public utilities such as washrooms and mosques on both sides of the causeway, to be completed by the end of the year. The two tower restaurants, one Saudi and one Bahraini, will be revamped through a separate project. The towers will be renovated without altering their historic appearance. Al-Otaishan told local newspapers that tenders for the project on the Saudi side had already been approved, with the Bahraini side set to follow suit shortly.

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