The King Fahd Causeway is a 28 km long bridging and viaduct connection between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Construction commenced in 1968 and continued until 1986, when it was officially opened to the public. The project cost a total of US $ 1.2 billion (3 billion SAR), with the Ballast Nedam Group, Netherlands, as one of the major contractors. The four-lane road is approximately 23 m wide, and was built using 350,000 sqm of concrete along with 47,000 metric tonnes of reinforced steel. The causeway is constructed in three segments starting from Saudi Arabia:
From Khobar to the Saudi-Bahrain border
From the border to Nasan Island, Bahrain
From the Nasan island to the main island of Bahrain
Building works, costing US $ 1.2 billion, financed entirely by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were completed in 1986 and the Causeway was opened to traffic at the end of that year. In 2001, 2.7 million cars, carrying over 10 million passengers, had used this causeway. This international strait crossing consists of a series of bridges alternating with embankment fills. The five bridges are characterised by their length and the uncertain foundation conditions consisting of sand, silty soil, cap rock (sand cemented by coral and molluscs), coral line and limestone, all varying in extent and density from pier to pier.
This project is notable because of the successful use of mass production techniques for the fabrication and installation of vertical, pre-stressed concrete cylinder piles; 3.5 m in diameter, placed and grouted into drilled sockets. The lengths of the piles varied from bent to bent to fit the geo-technical conditions (as determined by boring and/or penetration testing) at each pier; over 500 piles were installed. Also notable is the emphasis on durability in the notorious environment of the Arabian Gulf. An inspection carried out five years after completion showed no corrosion of reinforcing steel. Such high quality and resistance was attained by (a) use of a specially – selected cementitious blend of Blast Furnace Slag and Portland cement (b) a very low water-cement ratio, obtained by use of a high-range water-reducing admixture (c) external coating of the piles in the splash zone with epoxy. Rock-boring molluscs, which have been encountered in previous concrete piles in this area of the Arabian Gulf have been so far successfully averted by the use of igneous aggregate rather than limestone. This concept enabled mass production techniques to be adopted for both fabrication and installation and is marked by its simplicity and adaptability to a range of water depths and geo-technical conditions.
A $260,000 study is being completed as part of a long-term strategy to help the King Fahd Causeway Authority plan for significant increases in commercial and passenger traffic by the year 2020. As a result, the number of immigration lanes on the King Fahd Causeway could be increased to 45 in both directions within the next five years to meet the anticipated rise in traffic.
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