King Fahd Road is one of the main transport axes in Riyadh and a key link between south and north of the city. With an average daily traffic of over 400 thousand vehicles. this road actively contributes to the success of the RCRC’s efforts to develop the city, and revive its center to continue serving as the capital’s political, administrative and commercial hub.
As part of its architectural development program, the RCRC planned, designed and carried out a 5.1-km section of King Fahd Road bordered by Al-Ma’zar street and ‘Aseer street. Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) considered all the functional, environmental and aesthetic requirements during implementation of the project. Being located in the heart of the city, the road’s design took the form of an open tunnel below the ground surface to avoid dividing the city and to protect the adjacent residential areas from noise and air pollution. Moreover, the design also focused on achieving balance between traffic movement to and from downtown. Accordingly, the road design comprised two different levels, one for the fast-flowing traffic and the other for a service road with sufficient exits and entrances to facilitate movement both for vehicles and pedestrians via innovatively designed overpasses, with no interruption to traffic flow from the highway into the service lane. Surely, this improved traffic safety and flow. Moreover, the road allows ease access to the intersecting roads.
The areas along the road were landscaped gracefully to highlight the project’s elegant design and implementation strategy. Supported by the necessary infrastructure for scalable advanced traffic management systems, the entire road has dedicated routes for fiber optic networks under the traffic island and the strip separating the service lane and the express lanes on both sides of the road. The road was also equipped with suitable entrances to enable access to the communication network routes.
The road is 95 meters wide, and most of it is a 40-meter-wide open tunnel that falls about 8 meters below the ground surface. Each lane has three tracks in both directions, in addition to emergency lanes, a traffic island and two 15-meter-wide service roads on both sides. The service roads can accommodate up to three lanes increasing the total number of tracks near intersections. The service roads are isolated from the main road by 8 kilometers of supporting wall equipped with about 16 entrances and exits to the main road.
A 1.5-meter-wide pedestrian walkway was reserved from the pavement along the road and separated from the service roads by a row of trees.
Some parts of the road have beautiful green areas, with five ground-level tunnels and an east-west overpass bridge along Al-Washam Street to facilitate the traffic.
The open tunnel lighting was implemented according to the latest international standards to ensure clear vision and avoid harmful reflections. To achieve this, 20-meter-high lampposts, paced at intervals of 70 meters, were used along the road, in addition to dedicating five rows of lighting units for the covered parts of the tunnel. At the tunnel’s entrances, the light is intense to offset the sunlight, while the service roads were lit using 12-meter-high lampposts paced at intervals of 35 meters.
With regard to ventilation, the tunnel, connecting Imam Turki bin Abdullah Road and Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Road, was equipped with three suction fans in each direction to ensure air filtration, particularly as the covered section of the tunnel is relatively long in this area.
Several location along the road have been afforested and landscaped to impart an aesthetic touch to the road and protect the adjacent residential areas from pollution. This process took about 8000 trees planted along the road, in addition to many bushes.
The prominent landscaping element of the road is the 12000-m²park established on top of the covered tunnel linking Imam Turki bin Abdullah Street and Imam Muhammad bin Saud Street. Furthermore, the road has ten small parks scattered on both sides of the road with seating areas, fountains and children games.
The Royal Commission for Riyadh City adopted an advanced traffic management system at King Fahd Road Project based on the latest control technologies to ensure maximum traffic safety and smoothness.
The system can monitor the traffic movement along the road and at entrances and exits of its main part using electronic sensors and special cameras that provide real-time updates to a central server. Simultaneously, the server analyzes the information, evaluates the situation, and takes the proper decisions to ease traffic movement and solve traffic problems. The system also controls the traffic lights at the frontage roads.
The digging works of King Fahd Road Tunnel were also utilized to establish a drainage system to decrease groundwater level at downtown.
Therefore, more than 1000 wells were dug to a depth of 8-10 meters meters to drain ground and surface water into four parallel channels extending for 20 kilometers and ending with two water collection and filtration stations. This system drained great quantities of ground and surface water in that area.
The drained water was either discharged into flood watersheds or used in irrigating the green areas and plants of the project as well as the other near projects like King Abdulaziz Historical Center.
The redirection and reconstruction of the intersecting public utility lines serving downtown represented one of the project’s key challenges as they fall in the oldest section of Riyadh city; yet, it was successfully overcome. The lines that pass beneath the project’s area were transferred to other temporary locations during implementation of the road, and later they were reconstructed permanently at the courses dedicated to them along the road. As for the utility lines that pass beneath the road, they were temporarily moved beneath the bridges, and later relocated.
These works were done smoothly thanks to the exemplary coordination strategy adopted by the RCRC with the concerned authorities.
The RCRC developed regulations for constructions on both sides of King Fahd Road in order to encourage development of the areas adjacent to the road consistently with its importance and in such a way that improves the area’s urban nature, and ensures smooth traffic and pedestrian movement.
These regulations allow flexible and creative designs of buildings and facilities, while imposing as minimal restraints as possible for the sake of public interests. The regulations guarantee that urban activities would always remain within the limits sustainable by the area public utilities and services.
The Royal Commission for Riyadh City commissioned a group of its best engineers to handle the project and conclude contracts with the contractors and subcontractors to ensure that the project is implemented as scheduled and according to the approved standards and budget. This team contacted with construction materials suppliers and managed to overcome all the obstacles they faced.
The team’s tasks also included remaking architectural designs of some elements of the road like the intersection bridges, in addition to other missions that reduced the project costs and facilitated workflow, resulting in early completion of the project, six months ahead of schedule.