Dubai heading for the world's biggest traffic jam?

Motorists need to know plans to manage building of the Dubai Canal, says Beatrice Thomas

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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Posted by: RayC

It will definitely be a case of serious congestion during peak hours, even if they dig-up 2-3 lanes at a time each side of SZR, however they will surely use the Service Road at both sides & the green patches area in between to create diversions. Most importantly, they have to STOP THE METROL and sever the concrete rail link for the width of the canal x 2. As a first control measure RTA must & should CUT/Block the Al Ittihad Road link (from Sharjah via Al Mullah Plaza & also from Al Qusais Grand Hotel) towards SZ Road via Maktoum, Floating Bridge & the Garhoud Bridge, and instead re-erect the Sharjah & Northern Emirates Traffic (both ways) via Emirates Road to re-connect via the D60 - E311- E44 (al Aweer Rd) and then link back to E11(SZR) for the Jebel Ali & Abu Dhabi bound Traffic. INTERESTING!

Posted by: Colin Occupants

The Metro track is already engineered in preparation for the Canal. The Metro will not be disrupted in any way. Look at the spacing of the pillars and the design of the "arch" underneath next time you drive past.

The roads are going to be a nightmare though, most people will use Al Khail Road but trying to get there is a constant struggle, particularly using Hessa Street.

Posted by: Neil

Good article, remember the Defence Roundabout? That went on for years, and Al Soufah road is just strange, it must be nearly 5 or 6 years that has been dug up for. Considering the density of population nearby it is surprising the road network has worked at all. How the contractor was allowed to dig up more without finishing the kilometers of road already dug up is any ones guess.
The infrastructure will be great once it is done, hopefully the trams wont make as much noise as the new mosque but that is maybe another story for another day..?

Posted by: Rjadvano

While the RTA seems to be doing a good job announcing and building our infrastructure, they've always lacked the ability or desire to inform the public of their schedules and plans in a cohesive fashion. They need to identify their upcoming projects 24 months in advance and post the details along with alternative route options and post them on their website.

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