Shaikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi is still under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Image Credit: Alex Westcott/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi:  Motorists going from and to the capital can save around 15 minutes with the opening of the iconic Shaikh Zayed Bridge by the end of this year, according to the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City.

The bridge, which costs Dh900 million, will be the third gateway to Abu Dhabi, linking the mainland with the Abu Dhabi Island. It is also slated to help residents cope with the rapidly increasing traffic while easing pressure on the two existing main bridges namely Maqta and Musaffah.

The new bridge will also connect the eastern ring road, Salam Street, to the highway towards Shahama and Dubai.

Engineers and workers are in the process of adding the final touches to the Shaikh Zayed Bridge to ensure the opening of the bridge as announced earlier is as per schedule [in the last quarter of this year], a municipality spokesman told Gulf News recently, without divulging details of the exact launch date.

"The date will be announced soon; it will be in this quarter [before December end]," he said.

The gigantic bridge, which symbolises sand dunes of the desert has been named after Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE.

"It has ‘S' shaped arches taking the shape of sand dunes rendering the bridge as an integral element of the local environment," the spokesman said. The three twin arches and supports of the bridge recreate the shape of sand dunes, he added.

The landmark bridge was designed by internationally acclaimed British-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid.

"Conceived in an open setting, the bridge has the prospect of becoming a destination in itself and [a] potential catalyst in the future urban growth of Abu Dhabi," Hadid said on her website.

Durability: Standing the test of time

The prescribed lifetime of the Shaikh Zayed Bridge is 100 years, the official spokesman of the municipality told Gulf News.

It has been designed to withstand the temperature ranging from zero degree Celsius to +60 degree Celsius, he said.

"Given the location of the bridge, obviously it looks as a marine structure emerging from the sea water enduring extreme surrounding weather conditions," he said.

Seismic restraining devices

The bridge is equipped with seismic restraining devices and absorption dampers to make it capable of withstanding tremors, the spokesman said.

The bridge is fitted with viscous dampers which act as shock absorbers by distributing the impact of the shock such that it does not concentrate on one area and hence cause a major damage, he said.