The four winners of the design-and-build deal for the 40-kilometre-long Qatar-Bahrain causeway face an additional nine-month wait to determine the value of their contracts after being instructed by the client to work on an open-book basis until the design process is completed.

Following a six-month evaluation period, the design and build contract for the causeway was awarded on 6 May to a consortium of France’s Vinci Grands Projets, Germany’s Hochtief, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) and Middle East Dredging Company (Medco).

However, the contract value will not be finalised until after the initial nine-month design process, a source close to the deal tells MEED. It is expected to be in the region of $3bn.

Denmark’s Cowi is working as the design consultant on behalf of the contracting consortium.

The consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar Bahrain Causeway Foundation in October last year.

With the contractor now in place, a further award is expected in June for the client representative/programme management role, for which bids were submitted in March (MEED 4:4:08).

The bidders include UK-based Mott MacDonald and a joint venture of the US’ KBR and the UK’s Halcrow.

The successful bidder will report directly to the foundation and will be responsible for managing the construction of the project on behalf of the client.

Construction work is scheduled to start in early 2009, once the programme manager has been selected and the design of the scheme has been finalised. It is expected to take about four years, with completion set for mid-to-late 2012.

Known as the Friendship Causeway, the project will link the western Qatari coast of Ras Ashiraj to the village of Askar on the eastern coast of Bahrain.

The crossing will be a dual carriageway. For the 18km where the sea is shallow it will run over embankments, and for the 22 kilometres where there is deep water, it will use a series of bridges and viaducts, including two 400-metre cable-stayed bridges over the main shipping channel.

The causeway is one of the most ambitious projects in the Gulf and has been in the planning stages for almost a decade.

The scheme was first unveiled in 1999 as a symbol of the friendship between Bahrain and Qatar following Doha and Manama’s acceptance of an International Court of Justice ruling on the Hawar islands.

There was no progress on the project until 2001, when a Danish consortium led by Cowi, with toll and operator specialist Sund & Baelt, hydraulic consultant DHI Water & Environment, and architects Dissing & Weitling, was commissioned to conduct a feasibility study.

After the study, the causeway project once again stalled until the deal was signed with the consortium for the construction contract late in 2007 (MEED 1:2:08).