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Causeway capacity boosted amid congestion complaints
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 07 - 2013


Saudi Gazette report


DAMMAM — The King Fahd Causeway that links Saudi Arabia to Bahrain is undergoing an ambitious development program that has dramatically driven up its capacity, according to the director of the King Fahd Causeway Authority.
Badr Al-Otaishan told Al-Sharq daily that two islands will be constructed on either side of the bridge to increase capacity.
Each island will be able to hold 250,000 travelers daily.
Customs and passport checks will be moved to the islands and the distance between them will be 20 km to ensure that the traffic on the Bahraini side does not extend to the Saudi side.
Al-Otaishan said a short-term plan to eliminate pavements and water fountains has expanded the causeway from 10 lanes to 18 lanes wide.
He explained that there are three lanes dedicated for students in Bahraini universities, a lane for handicapped drivers and a lane for diplomats.
Al-Otaishan linked the heavy queuing on the causeway to the large number of Saudi families going to Bahrain, a number greater than the causeway's capacity.
He pointed out that 18.5 million passengers crossed the bridge in 2012 alone.
The director said the short distance of 300 meters between the Bahraini and Saudi sides and the different customs procedures and passport checks employed on each side may be contributing to the delays.
Al-Otaishan said foreign workers who come to picnic at the Saudi side cannot be prevented from doing so as they are guests in the Kingdom and welcome in all places.
Al-Otaishan claimed that the traffic light system has failed to reduce congestion and has been removed.
On the other hand, the drive-through passport check facilities for women have been a success, Al-Otaishan said.
The tower restaurant on the Saudi side has failed to attract customers and closed two years ago.
Al-Otaishan declared that bidding is now open for a redevelopment program for the tower.
When queried about travelers' complaints that some lanes are often closed, Al-Otaishan replied that this is the Passport Department's responsibility.
Lt. Col. Ahmed Al-Leheidan, the Passport Department spokesman, said the department is concentrating its efforts on opening all lanes and operating at full capacity at all times.
The spokesman added that the heavy volume of traffic contributes to delays.
He said the department is not responsible for increasing the number of lanes, adding that dealing with such congestion requires a technical solution.


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