Dubai’s Road’s and Transport Authority (RTA) is planning a series of major new projects that include adding a double-deck, or elevated section, to Sheikh Zayed Road, major overhauls to Al-Wasl and Jumeirah Beach roads and the construction of a new tram line.

For the double-decking of Sheikh Zayed Road, the RTA has invited firms to take part in a design competition. It comprises two main components. The first is a feasibility study for the double-decking that will run from the Dubai creek area and Sheikh Rashid Road all the way through to Jebel Ali Port – a distance of up to 35 kilometres. The second part of competition involves submitting a fee for the design and construction supervision of the new elevated roadway.

Consultants have been invited to submit proposals on 25 March. The first prize is AED1m, second is AED750,000 and third prize is AED500,000.

It is understood the elevated roadway will be for long-distance traffic travelling across the emirate and the number of entry and exit ramps will be limited. It could be delivered using private finance if tolls are charged for using the road. Dubai already operates a toll system, known as Salik, on Sheikh Zayed Road and other key roads and bridges across the emirate.

Another upgrade to Sheikh Zayed Road is currently being tendered. The RTA recently extended the tender closing date for the contract to upgrade an interchange in the Dubai Marina area on the motorway to 21 January.

The upgraded interchange 5.5 will provide access to the new Bluewaters Island development off the Dubai coast, near to Jumeirah Beach Residences. The main component of the 900-day project involves building a 1.4km-long, 25-metre-wide flyover that will take traffic from Sheikh Zayed Road onto the Bluewaters Island.

The bridge will also take a new rail link to the island from its terminal station on Sheikh Zayed Road opposite the existing Nakheel Harbour and Tower station. The other parts of the project include building ramps connections to the bridge and service roads.

Another road project on Sheikh Zayed Road has just moved into the construction phase. In October last year, Turkey’s Gunal was awarded a contract that involves building a 16-lane bridge that will take traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road across the proposed Dubai Water Canal project that involves taking Dubai creek from the Business Bay area to the Gulf.

The Dubai Water Canal will also require new bridges to be built that will take traffic on Al-Wasl and Jumeriah Beach road over the newly extended waterway. The RTA is planning to tender construction contracts for these bridges in April. It has already briefed contractors ahead of the tender to give them time to try to secure funding for the project.

In addition to building new bridges on Al-Wasl and Jumeirah Beach roads, the RTA is planning to introduce a one-way system to ease traffic on both roads, and allow for a new tram line running along Jumeirah Beach Road.

The one-way system will mean that there will be four lanes of traffic on Al-Wasl Road heading southwards towards Umm Suqeim Road, and on Jumeirah Beach Road there will be four or five lanes heading north towards 2 December Road, which was formally known as Al-Dhiyafa road.

Jumeirah Beach Road is currently three lanes in each direction. The reduced number of lanes will create space for a new tram line that will run the length of the road.

The RTA is preparing to open its first tram line, known as the Al-Sufouh tram, and will start testing the network on 26 January. The consortium building the project, which is led by France’s Alstom and the local/Belgian Belhasa Six Construct, restarted work in January 2011 after it secured funding from France.

The upgrade of Al-Wasl and Jumeirah Beach roads will also allow the RTA to pedestrianise the area around Union House leading up 2 December Road. The RTA is currently managing the refurbishment of Union House, where the document that formed the UAE in 1971 was signed.