The King Fahd Causeway Authority (KFCA) has received bids from firms for the project management contract for the first part of the scheme to expand the King Fahd Causeway. The causeway links the eastern region of Saudi Arabia with Bahrain.

The KFCA received bids from project management firms in mid-January for the first major contract on the scheme, which involves reclamation works on both sides of the causeway.

The expansion scheme is planned to increase the vehicle capacity of the causeway, which often has severe congestion during peak periods. On an average, the bridge serves about 45,000 vehicles a day. That figure increases to about 60,000 vehicles during weekends.

The existing King Fahd Causeway was opened in 1986 and extends for a total length of 25 kilometres. The bridge cost an estimated $1.2bn to construct and was built by a consortium that included the Netherlands’ Ballast Nedam.

The existing causeway comprises five bridges interconnected by islands and dams. Three of the bridges form the Saudi part of the causeway and measure 934 metres, 2,034 metres and 5,194 metres in length. The Bahraini side of the link consists of two bridges, measuring 3,334 metres and 934 metres in length.

In addition to the expansion of the King Fahd Causeway, there are plans to improve transport links between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain with a proposed rail connection.

 A feasibility study into the construction of a rail connection between the two countries is expected to be awarded in March or April this year. Expressions of interest for the scheme have already been sent out the market.

The railway line will form part of the $15.5bn GCC-wide rail network, which is targeted to be operational by 2018. The Saudi-Bahrain connection was originally estimated to cost $4.5bn, but is now predicted to exceed $5bn. Initial plans envisaged the connection will be 90km long.

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