The Qatar and Bahrain Causeway Foundation is finalising the design and construction costs of the $4bn Qatar-Bahrain Causeway project with contractors.

A consortium of six contractors will now start work on the causeway in the first quarter of 2010, says a spokesperson for US-based engineering and construction company KBR which is managing the project.

Though the final project value remains undecided, MEED reported in March that revisions to the design involving the addition of a rail link would add $1bn to the final cost of the project (MEED 13:03:09).

The project, also known as the Friendship Bridge, will be jointly funded by both governments.

The contracting consortium is led by the joint venture of state-owned developer Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and French contractor Vinci Construction Grand Projets. Germany’s Hochtief, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Dredging International from Belgium, and the local Middle East Dredging Company are the other consortium members.

The Qatar and Bahrain Causeway Foundation will be able to recover some of the construction costs through a toll system that will be installed on the causeway.

The project comprises a 40km long dual carriageway featuring 22km of bridges and viaducts and 18km of embankments and two 400-metre cable-stayed bridges. The causeway will connect Ras Ashairij on the west coast of Qatar to Askar on the east coast of Bahrain.

The crossing is expected to cut the journey time between the two countries from five hours, involving a detour through Saudi Arabia, to just 30 minutes.

The four-lane road bridge will be completed in 2013 and the two railway lines by 2015.