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Breakthrough for Sharjah’s longest rock tunnel

Sharjah’s Diftah - Shis highway, a route that will link the port of Khor Fakkan on the East Coast of Sharjah Emirate to Diftah in the central region, blasted its way into the local record books this week as the project team achieved their first of two tunnel breakthroughs – and in turn created the UAE’s longest rock tunnel.

Passing through some of the highest and steepest ranges of the Hajar Mountains, the project forms a strategic road link – enabling goods shipped to the port of Khor Fakkan to be distributed throughout the United Arab Emirates.

Halcrow, as consultant to the Government of Sharjah, Directorate of Public Works, is responsible for the design and supervision of the road tunnel – involving the construction of approximately 9km of dual two-lane carriageway mountain road; 1.3km twin bore tunnel and a 1km link road.

The tunnel has been blasted through the rock using explosives, and using the New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM), which involves stabilisation of the tunnel with rock bolts and spray concrete (shotcrete), before being lined with a waterproof membrane and permanent concrete inner shell.

A second tunnel breakthrough is scheduled for early November.

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