Qatar’s Transport Ministry expects to obtain final approval from the offices of the prime minister and its emir on the concept design of the landmark Sharq Crossing scheme by early 2018.

According to sources familiar with the scheme, the original design, which includes three bridges connected by subsea tunnels, is likely to be retained.

Once the design is approved, the Transport Ministry will initiate discussions on the procurement model for the scheme, estimated to initially cost up to $12bn.

“We are not sure if the blockade will have an impact on the timeline, but our understanding is that they were looking at releasing a tender before the end of 2018,” one source tells MEED.

Procurement options being considered include public-private partnership (PPP) as well as splitting the total cost of the project between the government and private investors.

The Transport Ministry has reviewed and approved a value engineering study conducted for the scheme last year by a team comprising Qatar National Bank (QNB), UK-based Arup and PwC.

The document was subsequently submitted to the prime minister’s office for approval. The same document, once approved by the prime minister, will be forwarded to the emir’s office for final approval.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava prepared the initial concept designs for the bridges for the 12-kilometre-long crossing.

The scheme was officially announced in December 2013. The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) began prequalifying contractors for a number of packages the following year. However, progress slowed later that year and the decision not to hire a consultant to prepare the tender documents led to a speculation that the project has been put on hold.

Sources close to the project said in 2015 that although the Transport Ministry, which was formed in 2014, was reviewing the project, Ashghal is still responsible for the delivery.