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Za’abeel Access and Bridges of the Parallel Roads Improvement, Dubai, UAE

Za'abeel Access and Bridges of the Parallel Roads Improvement

Improving Dubai’s Roads

Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has undertaken numerous projects to improve mobility throughout the area. The Parallel Roads project is RTA’s largest improvement currently under construction and consists of two parallel roads, each 64 km (39 mi) long, that will connect traffic from Sheikh Rashid Road to the Abu Dhabi border. Parsons is providing design and construction supervision for this program, which consists of arterial roads carrying 4 lanes in each direction, more than 100 at-grade and grade-separated intersections, and 40 km (24 mi) of dual-3-lane connecting roads.

The Za’abeel access and bridges project, located in the heart of Dubai next to Dubai World Trade Centre, is one of the largest and most important phases of the Parallel Roads project. It links the Western Parallel Road with Al Sa’ada Street in front of Dubai World Trade Centre and Sheikh Rashid Road. The project involved constructing two parallel viaducts of two lanes each and one flyover, with a total length of 4.2 km (2.6 mi), using segmental bridge construction techniques. The project also improves signalized junctions at the Dubai World Trade Centre area in addition to infrastructure and lighting.

Parsons provided design and construction supervision services for this landmark project, one in a series of planned segmental bridges, many of them in Dubai’s most congested areas for traffic and service utilities. RTA selected Parsons because of our extensive expertise in developing and implementing highway systems—we have engineered more than 10,000 mi of roads in 40 countries on six continents.

Erecting Segmental Bridges

The most significant feature of the Za’abeel access and bridges project is its construction using 17 concrete segmental bridges for a total length of 4.2 km (2.6 mi), with bridge spans ranging from 30 m (98.4 ft) to 60 m (196.8 ft). The average width of the bridge is 12.7 m (41.7 ft), with a maximum width of 14.7 m (48.2 ft) and total deck surface of 58,624 m² (14.5 acres).

Bridge segments were fabricated using the match cast method, which ensures closely fitting joints. These segments were moved by mobile portal cranes to a storage area where they remained until being loaded into special low-bed 16-axle transporters, carried to the erection point, and positioned beneath the launching gantry. A 200-ton-capacity winch lifted the segments, which were suspended beneath the gantry by means of four hanging bars until all segments in a stage were connected and prepared for post-tensioning. After completing each post-tensioning operation, the launching gantry was moved forward to the next stage, where the cycle was repeated.

Services Utilities

Because the constraints imposed by launching gantries demand continuous installation of segments from one end of the bridge alignment to the other, timely relocation of existing services and utilities was essential for maintaining the project schedule. This relocation of services required close coordination between RTA, Parsons, services authorities, and the construction contractor.

Traffic diversion at Za’abeel Road

Traffic diversion at Za’abeel Road

Unique Elements and Project Challenges

This project is the first of its kind for RTA. It involved the largest segmental bridge viaducts cast, transported, and erected in the United Arab Emirates—all within Dubai’s busiest area and without interfering with business traffic. Individual segments weighed from 100 to 185 tons, 300% larger than the Dubai Metro segments. Despite this complexity, the project maintained its completion target of 15 to 16 segments per week and five to six spans in a month, enabling erection of 84 spans in 66 weeks.

Parsons designed and delivered various traffic diversion stages for construction of the at-grade intersection and roads at the busiest junction near Dubai’s World Trade Centre. In addition, the project’s bridges intersect major roads such as Sheikh Zayed Road, Sheikh Rashid Road, and Za’abeel Street, which are among the city’s busiest. The project required lifting and erecting segments over these crucial roads—including 12 intersections—while minimizing traffic disruption.

Pedestrian bridge across Al Sa’ada Street

Pedestrian bridge across Al Sa’ada Street

Pedestrian Bridge near Convention Centre

Parsons was also responsible for designing and supervising construction of a pedestrian bridge across Al Sa’ada Street where it connects to the segmental bridge near the Dubai International Convention Centre. The 95-m (312-ft) pedestrian bridge is 4.5 m (14.8 ft) wide, with stairways and elevators on either side of the road.

Successful Completion of Award-Winning Project

Parsons is pleased to add the Za’abeel access and bridges project, as well as the comprehensive improvements of the Parallel Roads, to our large portfolio of successful road and highway projects. The project, including the pedestrian bridge, was completed without any lost-time injuries during 9 million work hours. It opened to traffic in December 2013, significantly improving access to the heart of Dubai.

The comprehensive improvements of the Parallel Roads project won the UAE Transport Project of the Year award as part of the Middle East Economic Digest Quality Awards for Projects 2014.