The Lusail Expressway: Efficient Vehicular Transportation in Doha

December 6, 2017 in Infrastructure

Ashghal, the Public Works Authority of Qatar, are adding a new section to the Doha Expressway network.

The Lusail Expressway is a 5.3km long expansion of a four-lane highway. The carriageway will run in both directions, with three major interchanges (Al Wahda Interchange, Onaiza Interchange and Pearl Interchange) all located in Northern Doha. The expressway will also have two service lanes in the multi-level interchange areas. The road will include a complex network of tunnels, flyovers and junctions to accommodate high volumes of traffic.

A major benefit of the expressway is that it will improve the route between Doha and Lusail. Existing development areas such as Pearl and Katra will also benefit from the expressway, thanks to the upgrades in interchanges. The President of Ashghal, He. Eng. Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi, spoke to The Business Year about the interchange upgrades. He said:

“Over the last year, the authority has been working to convert roundabouts to signal controlled intersections. In addition, various existing roads are being upgraded across the country to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.”

The infrastructure will complement the future Sharq (Doha Bay) crossing. It will run alongside an upcoming light rail transit (LRT) and the future Red Line North of Doha Metro. The project also involves the construction of two new multi-lane canal crossing bridges.

So far, the Lusail expressway interchanges are making good progress. The existing Al Istiqlal Road, which stretches from south of the Al Wahda (Arch) roundabout to north of the North Channel Crossing, is receiving a large amount of work. As part of the project, the existing Arch Roundabout will be developed into a three-level interchange with a dual three-lane underpass. This will connect the Al Dafna area to Lusail. It will offer a single point interchange at the ground level for the Arch traffic and three lane directional links from Lusail Expressway to the Central Business district at level 1.

Some interchanges have already been completed. At the Onaiza Interchange, a free-flowing four level system has been developed and opened for public use. The infrastructure has been designed to carry vehicles both under and above ground. A 600m-long tunnel was built for commuters driving on the expressway beneath the interchange, and Onaiza Street was elevated as a dual two-lane flyover. All tunneling works for the Onaiza interchange were completed four months ahead of schedule in early 2017. At the formal opening, Ashghal president and senior engineer Saad bin Ahmed al-Mohannadi said the tunnel’s opening for traffic was decided a week after a site inspection by HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulla bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.

For now, the tunnel will help enhance the traffic flow in the area. However, the full benefit will only be felt after the completion of the whole Lusail Expressway in January 2018.

The next phase of work focuses on the Pearl Interchange. This interchange will be a useful connection because it provides access to and from the residential areas in Legtaifiya Lagoon, and to the commercial and public institutes in the area. The current single-level Pearl Interchange is being converted into a three-level interchange. All levels will be built below ground level. To provide free flow access in and out of the Pearl-Watar development area, bidirectional three-lane tunnels are being built, using the two marine canals in the north and south. A 1.1km length tunnel which will be 9.5m-wide and 5.5m-high will also pass beneath the interchange at a depth of 25m. This will eventually connect to the future LRT system.

Ashghal are currently implementing elaborate artscape and iconic super structures along the length of the expressway. Two huge arches are being built at the southern end of the expressway, representing a set of gates into the city. The expressway will become a regional landmark, and the ‘gates’ will replace the old Rainbow arch in a fresh new way. Eversendai are building the arches for Ashghal. In a press release, Eversendai said that the bigger arch of the Al Wahda Arches will have a length of 146.52 metres and a maximum height of 98.79 metres. The smaller arch will span across 139.84 metres in length with a maximum height of 77.56 metres. Lastly, the suspended visitors’ centre will measure 85 metres in length and 21 metres in height.

It is not just structures that will add artistic flair to the highway. Murals have been created inside the Onaiza Tunnel, next to the interchange. The designs have been inspired by Qatari pearl diving marine heritage, with patterns that derive from the fisherman’s net in a blue colour. The pattern hints at ripples of a diver under the water, and at the end of the tunnel the ripples fade away in the horizon. The lighting poles were also chosen to add an aesthetic dimension to the overall design.

In addition to road construction and landscape works, the stormwater network (drainage system) will receive an upgrade. Around 1.2km of tunnels of 2,500mm internal diameter are now being constructed for the drainage system. Electrical and telecommunication networks are also being enhanced with the construction of 2.9km-long tunnels of 3,000mm internal diameter. The tunnels will hold 132kV of cables, maximising electrical and telecommunication potential in the surrounding area.

The scope of work needed for Doha’s Expressway network requires an extensive, multi-disciplinary team.  The workforce has dramatically grown to meet the demands of the construction projects.  14,764 workers will be employed to work with Ashghal this year. Qatar can expect to have nearly 91,000 people working in construction by the end of 2017. With a project of this scale, in a country with a population of 2.15 million, finding the right people to deliver the work has been challenging at times. According to Ashghal’s partners, KBR, the employment challenge has been overcome by sourcing a well-qualified international talent pool. This priority is reflected in the team, which is comprised of technical experts and professionals from around the world including the U.K., the U.S., Philippines, India, South Africa and Australia. Graham Hill, Executive Vice President for Business Development and Strategy said:

“We welcome these new international teammates to KBR”

“We are excited to play such an integral role as program management consultant on the Qatar Expressway Programme. This Qatar team is a vital part of ONE KBR, in which all employees follow our global processes and tools to assure that KBR delivers on its commitments in a safe, efficient, cost-effective manner and to highest quality standards.”

The president of Ashghal reinforced this sentiment. Speaking to The Business Year, he said:

“Qatar Deserves the Best” is the slogan that Ashghal has adopted as its mantra. The process of selecting contracting companies is done based on certain conditions and criteria that take into account important factors such as quality, safety, expertise, as well as capability and commitment to implementation within the set schedule.”

Ashghal is responsible for the design, construction, delivery and maintenance of all expressways and major roads that cater to current and future traffic demands in Qatar. WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff was engaged to provide detailed design services for road infrastructure including complex structural interchange elements for the Qatar Expressway Programme in the south of Doha.

Hyundai Engineering and Construction was awarded the main construction contract for the expressway in 2012.

Hyundai Engineering subcontracted DCE to perform Stage 2 road safety audit on the project’s traffic management system.

CDM Smith is the supervision consultant for the project. AECOM Middle East is the design consultant, while KBR will act as the programme manager.

The QR3.5bn ($960m) project began in November 2012 and it is scheduled to be fully operational by January 2018.