Kuwait inaugurates the world's fourth longest sea-bridge

15 May 2019 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

Kuwait has inaugurated one of the world’s longest sea bridges – despite it presently going nowhere.

Designed by Paris-based engineering consultancy Systra, Kuwaiti officials last week inaugurated the 36 kilometer ‘Jaber’ causeway, which, for a cost of $3.6 billion, connects Kuwait City across the bay to the empty northern desert of Subbiya – cutting the drive by more than an hour. Although presently uninhabited, Subbiya is slated as the site for Kuwait’s ‘Silk City’ – a ~$130 billion mega-project linking the Gulf to Central Asia and Europe.

Named for late ruler Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, The Sheikh Jaber Causeway stretches for 36 kilometres in total with almost 80 percent over the water – making it the world’s fourth longest sea bridge behind a US and two Chinese contenders, including the 55km sea bridge linking Hong Kong to Macau and the Chinese mainland which opened last year. The King Fahd Causeway between Bahrain and KSA, inaugurated in 1986, is still the sixth longest.

Built over four years by a Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co-led consortium together with Kuwait’s Combined Group Contracting Co, the causeway was initially designed by Systra, an international engineering and consulting firm headquartered in Paris. For the three-year project, Systra assembled a multinational team of 250 experts from France, India, Kuwait, Dubai and Korea, and produced in excess of 14,650 drawings.Kuwait inaugurates the world's fourth longest sea-bridge

According to the firm, the combination of non-standard elements and technical challenges to overcome in both a desert and marine environment pushed it to implement leading-edge technical and economic solutions never previously used on such a scale – with the innovations in construction methods in turn reducing the impact on marine ecosystems as well as the construction risks associated with offshore projects.

“The bold option of proposing monopiles to support the structure, even in an unfavourable geological context, enabled stability, while significantly reducing seismic effects, the need for natural resources and the risk of concrete dispersion in the sea,” explained project director Mohamed Akraa, who was previously presented with a ACI Special Award for Infrastructure Project in 2017 by Kuwait’s Minister of Public Works.

Jean-Charles Vollery, Chief International & Development Officer for Systra, added; “SYSTRA’s work on this bridge has demonstrated our technical excellence to the world and shown that we are capable of carrying out highly challenging engineering design projects. I congratulate all those who have made this project such a great success and contributed to our receiving this award.” According to the firm, it’s the 12th best ranked designer for bridges globally.

With the 104 kilometer distance from the capital to Subbiya now cut to just 36 kilometers, and drive-times slashed from around 90 minutes to less than half an hour, the inauguration of the ‘Jabar’ bridge is an important step toward realising the 250 square kilometer Silk City project – or Madinat al-Hareer – an ambitious special economic and trade zone being developed in conjunction with China with an expected completion date of around 2035.