Bahrain, Saudi Arabia push for $3bn causeway
Plans for a second causeway, comprising road and rail links to join with GCC Rail, are likely to be finalised by the end of 2015
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will finalise plans for the construction of a second causeway by the end of this year, Bahrain's transport minister confirmed.
A feasibility study of the proposal was carried out last month.
The new causeway will be the second between both countries, and is expected to comprise a new road and rail link, which also connects to the proposed GCC Rail network.
Kamal Bin Ahmed, Bahrain’s minister of transportation and telecommunications, told Arabian Business “it made economic sense” for the new causeway to combine road and rail access as it would eliminate the need to build two costly bridges.
The new link has been named the King Hamad Causeway.
Bin Ahmed said the project has been estimated to cost $3bn.
He said he hoped it could be “fully financed” by the private sector and be completed within a decade at most.
“Being an island we have to be well connected to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The feasibility study conducted over the summer by Canadian engineering consultancy SNC Lavalin examined two proposed routes.
Both options would include a rail link spanning 87km, connecting two stations on either side of the water.
Bahrain’s station would be built on reclaimed land north of the existing King Fahd Causeway.
The existing 25km King Fahd Causeway has been described as one of the most congested roads in the Gulf with almost 27,000 vehicles travelling across it per day in 2014 – at least 10 million every year.
Officials have been in discussions for many years over potential solutions for increasing capacity to serve the millions of Saudi and Bahraini commuters and holidaymakers, including a $5.3 billion expansion of the King Fahd Causeway from 10 to 17 lanes.
However, a second causeway is expected to cut the need for a costly expansion of the existing link.