Elevated Solution

Big Project ME finds out why the Al Jahra Road Development project will be Kuwait’s most important infrastructure project. Gavin Davids reports

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Nearly 1,000 days ago, the Kuwait Ministry of Public Works announced that it had reached all the agreements necessary to announce the launch of one of Kuwait’s largest ever infrastructure projects.

The Al Jahra Road Development Project is not just another run of the mill road expansion project, the likes of which we’ve seen all over the GCC. Far from it in fact. It is currently ranked as one of the largest elevated road projects in the world and given its significance to Kuwait, it could be one of the most important projects ever undertaken by country.

The project began construction in September 2010, says Engineer Yasser Boudastour, the project engineer appointed by the Ministry of Public Works to supervise the project.

He tells Big Project ME that work on the $936 million road project started after an agreement was reached with the firms Louis Berger and the Pan Arab Consulting Engineers (PACE) to be the project design and supervision consultants. The Arab Contractors Company (ACC) – Othman Ahmad Othman, were appointed as contractors, he adds.

“Most of the old roads in Kuwait are simple three lane roads. The Ministry of Public Works intends to develop these roads. The Al Jahra Road project will be one of many projects that will transform these roads into a grand unified highway for 21 kilometres, which will extend from Jahra Gate Roundabout to United Nations Roundabout,” he explains during an interview with Big Project ME.

“The project will include building, construction and maintenance of roads and elevated motorways. It will comprise five phases of improvement, which will include the major utilities works such as sewage systems, overpasses, telecommunications, electrical systems and storm water drainage, amongst other things. It (the project) is considered to be a solution for traffic jams and will address the growing road congestion crisis,” he adds, pointing out that the Al Jahra Road Development project will connect with Kuwait’s other highways in a huge network that will ultimately help improve traffic safety and security.

With an estimated 2.25 cars per person in Kuwait, the need for a modern road network that can handle heavy volumes of traffic is crucial if the country is to achieve the aims set out by its government. In 2004, it was estimated that 85% of Kuwait’s roads were paved, so clearly the task ahead for the government remains huge.

As a result, the number of stakeholders involved in the project are high, with not just the Ministry of Public Works involved, but also bodies like the Ministry of Electricity and the Ministry of Interior. As a result, complications can arise over the course of the project, as Boudastour explains.

“For any major project, there are always challenges you’re going to face, and we face them every day,” he says. “Especially when it comes to the coordination needed for any detour in traffic. This project is also related to many ministries, which means a lot of coordination and official letters that need to be signed before taking any steps forward.

“Thankfully, we are now in coordination with all dealers to solve these problems and we’re trying to manage the traffic.”
With a scheduled completion date of 2015, the massive project is currently slightly behind schedule, but Boudastour is confident of making up the shortfall over the coming months.

“The expected timeframe for the project is five years. Right now we’ve reached 45% to 47% of work done. We’re a little bit behind schedule, but we’re trying to mitigate it and follow the schedule in the coming months,” he says.

“We’re behind schedule by about 6%, which is not that big a percentage. But as you know, we’re dealing with so many services and
ministries. Also, some times, especially when you’re working underground, you cannot see what’s there. When you’re doing excavations and all, you can sometimes find utilities. So we needed to divert them and for that, we needed to contact all the ministries to get permission. That creates a delay. So far, we’ve done all these things and we just have to have a recovery plan for this percentage, so as to meet the deadline at the end of the project.”

Keeping this in mind, the project overseers have stepped up their efforts to complete their work on schedule. At present the workforce consists of 2,600 men on site, working in three shifts. The project has achieved 8.5 million safety hours without injuries, he adds, claiming that this is a result of the team’s commitment to secure all necessary equipment, such as safety helmets, footwear and belts for workers to protect them from injuries.

In addition, workers attend weekly presentations and lectures to educate them about the ways to prevent accidents and how to act in the work areas to stay safe and protected.

At present 80% of the pilings, 15% of diaphrams, 45% of abutments, 61% of pile cap, 51% of piers are completed, in addition to erecting 590 segments that were fabricated in the precast yard, Boudastour says during the interview, with a partial handover of the project scheduled for September 2014, when Phase II is completed.

Jahra Road will be carried on new pre-cast pre-stressed segmental viaducts. The precast segments are short concrete sections connected together to form the carriageways of the bridges.

These segments are fabricated in pre-cast yard, which is a large plant fully utilised with moulding machines and worker’s offices for the production of the pre-cast segments.

The yard is set up on remote land located near the Camp Doha areas, with a total surface area that covers 150,000m2.
It accommodates large-scale pre-casting facilities such as mould production frames, different cranes, water tanks, storage and curing chambers.

Employing the system of segmental pre-casting provided both production speed and a bigger work space in a congested environment. This ensured the production of the highest quality of segments, while maintaining colour consistency, meeting strength requirements and establishing a bridge that requires little maintenance.

The project engineer explains that the installation of bridge segments are erected using a launching gantry that was design especially for this project.

The gantry weighs 560t and a length of 140m and is capable of carrying a segment bridge that weighs 85t and is filed over the bridge.

Two gantries are working and the third will be installed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the cutting bridges are divided into four categories, with each one manufactured to be installed in the work area; these segments are formed from four types – each is erected according to the specific location, and their weight ranges between 58t to 85t , Boudastour adds.

He’s quick to point out that the complexity of the project was alleviated by the comprehensive pre-planning undertaken by all the stakeholders. This in turn has made their job much easier, though not without complications, he says.

“Actually, before the tender, during the design stage, we got all the ministries and utilities together. The project was then designed on their given materials (information),” explains Boudastour. “But, even so, when you’re at the site, it’s different. Sometimes the dimensions aren’t clear enough or something is different, so it can happen (that there are delays and changes).

“But right now, we’re underway in all phases and we’re going to have a partial handover of the project if we reach the completion of Phase II by September 2014,” Boudastour promises. “It’s going to be going on according to schedule, and we’ll open other phases in that time,” he insists.

“This project will raise the state of infrastructure in Kuwait and it will be the first step towards new modern roads in Kuwait. The government is expecting it to reduce traffic jams, especially as it’s located in a central part of Kuwait. It’s the intersection between a number of hospitals and Kuwait University and Kuwait Port.

“All parties involved in the project are excited to see the future of the project and see it achieve the goals that are planned.”

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