The tender for the main contract to build, finance and operate King Hamad Causeway, the second crossing to link Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, is expected to be issued in early 2019.

According to a local news report citing Abdullah Abdulmalik al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Bahrain, the tender “will be launched within six months”.

Al-Sheikh added that construction work on the scheme, which has a budget between $3bn and $4bn, could start by mid-2021 and take three years.

The project clients, comprising the transport ministries of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the King Fahd Causeway Authority, had initially planned to issue the tender by December.

In February, MEED reported that the clients were expecting to issue the request for proposal (RFP) for the scheme’s transaction advisory contract in the first half of 2018.

Teams comprising financial, technical and legal firms are expected to bid for the contract, which covers a detailed project feasibility study that could take up to six months.

However, MEED understands the RFP has yet to be issued.

More than 200 finance, legal and engineering firms as well as contractors expressed interest in the project last year.

King Hamad Causeway will feature a 25 kilometre road and rail causeway in the same alignment as the existing King Fahd Causeway. The railway segment will extend inland by another 21km into Saudi Arabia and 24km into Bahrain.

UK-based consultancy PwC completed a due diligence study for the project in cooperation with Canada-based SNC Lavalin last year.

Traffic volumes at the existing King Fahd Causeway, the first bridge to link Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have convinced authorities to build the second causeway, which will also have a rail component.

In 2016, an average of 30,332 cars per day used the existing causeway, which began operating in 2002.

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