Dukhan Highway Project: Qatar’s journey to great infrastructure

December 6, 2017 in Construction

Doha’s new highway is an excellent example of contemporary transportation infrastructure. With hard shoulders and grade-separated interchanges, the modern design will drastically improve traffic flow between Doha and Dukhan.

The Dukhan Highway Project is just one part of Qatar’s 980km-long route expansion plan. The project was initiated under Ashghal’s ‘Expressway Programme’ to modernise the country’s highway network. Once completed, the highway will reach 66km in length. The route starts at the Thani bin Jassim junction in Doha and will go as far as the Zirkreet interchange in Dukhan.

The president of Ashghal, Dr. Eng. Saad Bin Ahmed Al Muhannadi, said:

“If you look at the situation in Qatar now, in terms of population and congestion, and compare that to the expected population of 2030, it is clear that, without a robust transportation system, the quality of life in Qatar would be severely impacted.”

Infrastructure specialist and Vice Chancellor of Qatar Rail agreed with Dr. Ahmed Al Muhannadi, adding:

“The transportation sector is a measure of a nation’s progress and societal welfare, which entails further development and expansion of plans and projects. Accordingly, the Ministry of Transport and Communications set policies and formulated strategies that contribute to the development of the transportation infrastructure, promote the use of state-of-the-art technologies in transportation projects, and facilitate the movement of passengers and cargo. All this serves to improve the sector and eventually increase Qatar’s GDP to achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030.”

With this in mind, the Dukhan Highway Central project has developed a 15km long dual four-lane expressway to reduce travel time and relieve congestion

The expressway starts at the Wajbah Interchange and runs 1km east of the Al Shahania, Doha. It will provide road users with four lanes in each direction, and it can carry up to 8,000 vehicles per hour. The driving speed at the expressway has been set to a 120km/h maximum.

The older road systems have changed. Existing roundabouts have been replaced by three free-flowing interchanges. The three interchanges – the Al Jahaniya Interchange, Al Dehailiyat Interchange and Al Wajba Interchange – can absorb both current and future traffic volumes, improving accessibility into local government, commercial and residential developments.

The project’s main interchange, the Al Jahaniya Interchange, is a four level junction. It consists of six flyovers and bridges, one underpass, two tunnels, and multiple utility culverts. This will create free-flowing movement in all directions between Al Rufaa Street and the Dukhan Highway, directly catering to traffic entering and exiting the Mall of Qatar, Al Rufaa Celebration Halls and, in the future, the World Cup Stadium in Al Rayyan.

The QR1.4bn ($380m) development started in April 2011. In July 2014, Ashghal began excavating land for a 1.5km-long tunnel, moving over 450,000 cubic metres of material to enable the construction. Approximately 125,000 cubic metres of concrete and 10,000 tonnes of asphalt were used to build the route. By the end of 2014, a 9km stretch of the Dukhan Highway Central opened between the Sheehaniya interchange and the Al Rayyan roundabout.

Early in 2017, Ashghal finished constructing a 1.4km loop ramp from Al Rufaa Street (South) towards Dukhan, a 1.5km loop ramp from Al Rufaa Street towards Doha, an 800m long link from Al Rufaa Street towards Dukhan and a 480m tunnel that directly connects local roads near Mall of Qatar to the Doha-bound carriageway on the Dukhan Highway.

The 15km-long highway stretch opened in May 2017.

The construction aims to meet the needs of an ever-changing Qatar. Significant project details include:

-The multi-level interchange (Rawdat Rashed), which provides access to the Al Rayyan Stadium and the Mall of Qatar.

-A single-service road along both sides of the main carriageway and a two-way cycleway on the northern side to facilitate local traffic movement.

-18,000km-long crash barriers, installed to form the median of the highway.

-A tunnel, made up of 34 structural units. The tunnel has been fitted with sophisticated mechanical and electrical equipment to monitor the operation of the roadway 24 hours a day.

-Two camel underpasses, built along the route for safe movement of livestock.

-110 kilometres of cable ducts have been implemented; these will improve existing electrical systems and treated sewage effluent systems.

In addition, Ashghal have enhanced driver safety on the project by installing more than 27km of guard rails and an additional 586 street lights, as well as sophisticated Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) including dynamic message signs, speed cameras, license plate readers, flood detection systems and emergency telephones.

Due to the size of the development, various construction contracts were awarded.

The construction work itself has been a joint venture between Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Teyseer.

KBR was the programme manager for the project and WS Atkins was the design and work supervision consultant.

Magnus James provided civil engineering services for the construction of underpasses, interchanges, and bridges on the new highway.

Asphalt mix, prime coat, tack coat, and other raw materials, were supplied by Al Jaber & Makhlouf.

Viking Johnson produced the water drainage system, which connects to the Doha Mega Reservoir. This unique system involved more than 300m of ductile iron pipe with a large diameter of 1200mm and was under very hot atmospheric conditions (up to 60˚C).

Ashghal contracted SALAM SICE Tech Solutions (SSTS) in March 2014 to provide advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) on the Salwa and Dukhan highways.

Local manufacturers have been largely responsible for building the network, under Qatar’s ‘Buy Local Products’ initiative. The president of Ashghal confirmed that “70% to 80%” of products used in the build have been sourced from local manufacturers. He said:

“Ashghal is working hard to meet the requirements of the next phase in accordance with the priorities set by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during his speech about the current situation and Qatar’s future directions, with regards to maximising the reliance on national resources and capabilities, achieving self-sufficiency in all fields, and relying on Qatari resources and human potentials.”

“[the highway] is our goal, but we cannot achieve this alone; it also depends on all three stakeholders, mainly Ashghal, Qatar Development Bank, and the manufacturing companies. We should all work together.”

Today, the Dukhan Highway Central project has delivered approximately 19km of new and enhanced road on the existing Dukhan Highway and Al Rufaa Street. The project is connecting with the other projects on Ashghal’s Expressway Programme, such as the Dukhan Highway East (Khalifa Avenue) project, and the New Orbital Highway and Truck Route. Through the Dukhan Highway East project, the Dukhan Highway Central project is linked to phase one and two of the Al Rayyan Road Upgrade, which all form part of the Doha – Dukhan Corridor. The full corridor will open for public use in 2018.

Fortunately, nearby venues have benefitted from the new motor infrastructure. Mr. Rawad Sleem, Event Director at Project Qatar, praised the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) for being so close to the highway. He said:

“The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) continues to provide Project Qatar attendees with the convenience and comfort that facilitate effective participation. Given the Centre’s strategic location off Dukhan highway, as part of Qatar Foundation’s campus, Project Qatar visitors are able to locate and reach the venue with ease.”

According to Mr. Sleem, “visitors arrive at a 3,200-car parking space, from which the building can be readily accessed. Once on-site, attendees can alternate between the 41,500 sqm exhibition area, the main conference area with a capacity of 4,000 people and a multi-purpose hall that accommodates 2,300 people.” In addition to this, “participants benefit from the 52 private meeting rooms, waiting rooms as well as VIP suites, equipped with the latest technology. These facilities enable attendees to customize their Project Qatar experience, and allow us to meet visitor’s needs.”

Motorists are also pleased with the highway. A survey commissioned by QIC Insured, the retail arm of Qatar Insurance Company (QIC), shows positive feedback from motorists about improvements in road infrastructure over the past few months. The Qatar Road Safety Monitor looks at infrastructure, overall driving enjoyment, commute time and driving behaviour that are often linked to the cause of accidents in Qatar. The survey, which was conducted by YouGov in February 2017, is based on the views of a representative sample of Qatar’s residents. Majority of the respondents (64%) ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ that road infrastructure has improved over the past six months, leading to shorter commute time (58%) and more driving enjoyment (46%). Only 38% of the respondents believe that dangerous driving may have increased over the last six months. There has been some marginal improvements in the trend for distracted driving as mentioned by 80% of respondents. Speeding on the roads appears to have decreased, according to 64% of respondents. 67% of respondents also say that the trend for abrupt changing of lanes has dropped as well. However, the perception trend for tailgating appears unchanged over the past six months (76%).

Reflecting on these results, CEO of QIC Salem Al Mannai said:

“It is indeed encouraging to observe that most of the dimensions included in the survey have developed in the right direction, which can be attributed to the various initiatives taken by the ministry for improving road safety in Qatar. We are proud to be associated with this unique, long term perception study, as it demonstrates the efforts of QIC Insured to actively support the creation of safer roads, in line with Qatar’s National Road Safety Strategy and ‘Qatar National Vision 2030.”

QIC will repeat the study every six months.

In other safety news, the project has met some superb targets set by intensive health and safety initiatives. Arabian Industry.com have reported that the build has implemented Qatar’s first crash cushion system: European approved and tested on temporary barriers, both metal and concrete. Accredited installation, specialist roadside working safety training has been accredited to UK and European standards, and has been certified accordingly. A substantial amount of access control is available for emergency support vehicles.

In addition, awareness sessions, safety discussions and weekly management inspections have been ongoing.

Ashghal’s Expressways Programme has a set of health and safety procedures and policies across all projects to ensure commitment and compliance from all contractors to achieve zero% incidents, injuries, environmental harm, and no security breaches on the expressway projects.

Although the Dukhan Highway Central project is complete, many more developments are expected on the rest of Qatar’s motor network. Once completed, the 980km long network will provide the country with 240 more interchanges along roads deemed consistently safe. The journey in to the future has begun.