A total of 34 companies have applied to prequalify for the contract to build a 500-kilometre road linking the city of Atbara, north of Khartoum, with Port Sudan. The estimated $110 million project, which is fully financed by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, will reduce the distance by road from the capital to Port Sudan by about 400 kilometres. Bypassing an existing highway which connects Khartoum to the coast via Kassala, the new road will also improve connections between the Sudanese road and railway networks. Located at the confluence of the Atbara river and the Nile, the city of Atbara is the terminus of two major railway routes. The new road link will also pass through the railway junction of Hayya, northeast of Khartoum (MEED 1:2:02).