Dubai heading for the world's biggest traffic jam?

Motorists need to know plans to manage building of the Dubai Canal, says Beatrice Thomas
By Beatrice Thomas
Wed 02 Apr 2014 11:56 AM

The $544m Dubai Canal will be one of the emirate’s biggest urban infrastructure projects in recent times – if not by dollars than certainly by the upheaval it could cause.

The project is basically cutting a 2.8km-long swathe from Business Bay through 12 lanes of Sheikh Zayed Road, then Safa Park and Al Wasl Road to Jumeirah Beach Road, with Sheikh Zayed Road elevated up to 8.5m via a 16-lane bridge and two more six-lane bridges built over Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Beach Road.

It’s no mean feat and that’s why it also has the potential to be a traffic nightmare if it’s not managed well.

Dubai residents need only to look at the gridlock that is any road connected to construction of the Dubai Tram network - Al Soufah Road, in JBR, in particular, springs to mind – for the definition of a construction-related traffic jam. It’s been a bottleneck for years and Al Soufah Road is nothing in size when compared to Sheikh Zayed Road.

However, adding to the fun, the projects will likely be built, at least in some part, at the same time.

Last week the RTA issued the latest tenders for the canal project - a joint venture between Parsons and Halcrow will oversee construction - after Turkey’s Mapa and Gunal Constructions were earlier awarded the contract to build it.

The announcements, though, have come without any detail about how they plan to execute the project or a hint of the timing of road closures other than say it should all be completed within three years.

The RTA has yet to respond to questions from Arabian Business, but informing the public about what to expect in the coming months is critical to ensure that road chaos doesn’t ensue during the construction phase.

There will no doubt be diversions. And delays. You can’t tear up the city’s main arterial route without both happening.

The end result may be an attractive one, with new shopping, eating and entertainment areas created along the new canal.

But, before all that road users want to know where, when and for how long the diversions and delays will take place. And the sooner they know, the better they, too, can plan.

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