The ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress is the world's leading tunneling event, bringing together tunnel and underground space experts and professionals from all around the world. The 2018 edition of The World Tunnel Congress will be hosted in Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Center from April 21 – 26 2018.
The host society of engineers, UAE is preparing to host this event, which is held for the first time in the Middle East, with a number of mega tunnel projects, which had become a witness to the renaissance and development in the fledgling Emirates, and we will review some of these projects to get to know them closely.
Sheikh Zayed Tunnel, opened in 2012, the winner of the Global Road Achievement Awards (GRAA) 2014, organized by the International Road Federation (IRF), as well as the Grand Prize of the American Council of American Engineering Companies in Washington, the largest honor granted by the American Council to the significant and mega-projects, is the longest tunnel in the Middle East, with a length of 6.3 km, of which 4.2 km is paved.
The construction of the tunnel took about 32 million hours of continuous work, until the tunnel entered the service.
The importance of the Sheikh Zayed Tunnel in Abu Dhabi is that it connects the heart of the UAE capital with its various vital areas, and provides great traffic facilities for those coming to Abu Dhabi from Al Ain and Dubai.
In a survey of tunnel users from the drivers, they reported that the tunnel contributed to reducing travel times and saving time by 70% to 80%.
The tunnel consists of eight round-trip lanes for vehicles and contains twenty electronic traffic screens, which are being used for the first time in the emirate, where Abu Dhabi Municipality has developed and designed electronic traffic systems to ensure safe and efficient navigation within timetables.
Lighting in the tunnel is based on the latest technologies and systems in the world’s most advanced lighting systems, providing saving 60% of the consumption and providing a safe environment for drivers.
The tunnel is equipped with a voice guidance system, which is used in emergency and evacuation. It is also equipped with backup sources of electric power. It is operated automatically if the power distribution is disconnected from the tunnel, to ensure the continuity of all the systems in the tunnel. The tunnel is also supplied with variable electronic panels which instruct drivers and give them information about the road condition moment by moment.
Sheikh Zayed Tunnel is equipped with the latest surveillance systems adopted by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi in the construction of the tunnel, which is known as Scada, the latest technology in monitoring, control and data collection, and the most sophisticated systems in the world, as well as surveillance cameras that cover the tunnel by 100%.
In addition to the other technologies used in the tunnel, Abu Dhabi Municipality has installed a water pump system that pulls water from the tunnel into Abu Dhabi’s main water network. The tunnel contains a network of pipes for rainwater drainage and water from cleaning and emergency operations inside the tunnel and all connected to these pumps.
Sheikh Zayed Road Tunnel also has a fire detection, control and extinguishing system that detects fires within the tunnel through constant temperature monitoring. The system automatically detects fire smoke when the temperature exceeds a certain limit so that it sends an alarm to tunnel operators by sending an alarm signal to SCADA system, operating the fire extinguishing system, operating the smoke-clearing system, ventilating the tunnel, closing it to traffic and transmitting warning messages through the change electronic board system. This system supports a fire extinguishing system installed along the tunnel and in both directions. This system can extinguish fires that may occur on the shoulder or in the path of trucks in order to contain the fire before it grows or extends.
The tunnel also includes an emergency telephone system connected to the tunnel control rooms. These emergency phones have been distributed on both sides of the tunnel in both directions, ranging from 70 meters to 100 meters.