An artist’s impression of the bridge on Shaikh Zayed Road that will pass over the extended Business Bay canal. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The construction of the Business Bay Canal Extension Project which will extend the canal from Shaikh Zayed Road up to the Arabian Gulf will begin in the first quarter of next year, a senior official at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said.

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, recently visited the project site to bring forward the initial steps to the realisation of the Canal extension project, which has been endorsed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

RTA will award the Dh1.5 billion project contracts before the end of 2012 to enable contractors to begin construction work as early as the first quarter of 2013.

Al Tayer ordered the project to be prioritised due to the project’s ‘peculiar nature.’

The 2.8-metre canal will pass through populous areas including Shaikh Zayed Road (before Safa Interchange), then through Safa Park, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 2, and Jumeirah Road, before terminating at the Arabian Gulf.

Its width spans from 80 to 100 metres to allow the navigation of marine transit means in the canal.

Bridges up to 8.5 metres high will be constructed over the canal on the key roads intersecting it.

This comprises a six-lane bridge in each direction of Shaikh Zayed Road and a two-lane bridge in each direction of Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Road. Marine transit stations will be constructed throughout the canal to ease movement of the public, thereby promoting marine and tourist mass transit.

Al Tayer likewise instructed the work team to conduct a comprehensive study on the traffic movement in the affected areas and to ensure that traffic will flow smoothly as soon as the project begins next year.

RTA will carry out a number of improvements on the surrounding areas such as Jumeirah and Al Safa neighbourhoods. Roads alongside the canal will be built to assist the mobility between those districts.

Designed to be another key tourist landmark in Dubai, the canal will have facilities for tourists and sports enthusiasts alike.

Tracks dedicated to practising light sports, such as jogging and cycling, will be constructed along both sides of the Canal. Greens, benches, and public relaxation areas and other facilities will not only add beauty to the canal but also give a boost to tourist-oriented projects.

Projected to be completed by early 2015, the priority project is expected to boost Dubai’s odds in its bid to become the host of the World Expo 2020.