It's been 15 years since Dubai's Floating Bridge first opened to traffic

Unique overpass can accommodate thousands of vehicles every hour

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In a city full of architecturally marvellous bridges and flyovers, Dubai's Floating Bridge stands out for being a first of its kind in the Emirates.

Built 15 years ago to help ease the flow of traffic between Deira and Bur Dubai, the pontoon bridge is one of six overpasses on Dubai Creek.

Every night a 10-minute operation ensures the bridge goes up at 10pm to let vessels on the Creek to pass, and is reversed at 6am for traffic to cross the waterway. It stays up all day on Sunday, the timings of which changed with the new weekend in January this year.

In 2006 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, gave the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority the task of coming up with an urgent solution to traffic congestion in the area.

The RTA decided to make it a floating one to meet the deadline, but also to limit height restrictions on passing marine vessels.

Within 10 months, from conception to launch, the bridge, at 365 metres long and 22 metres wide, was ready and opened to the public on July 16, 2007.

It has two independent bridge structures that span the entire Creek, to accommodate the two traffic directions. Between the two 115-metre-long concrete pontoons is a hydraulically driven swing gate made of steel, which is opened and closed every morning and night.

Today, the six-lane structure allows thousands of cars to pass over it every hour, with up to 6,000 at peak times.

It was constructed in only 23 days by Waagner-Biro Gulf, which describes floating bridges as "an anomaly" and this one specifically as a "particularly exciting example".

"The challenge lies in balancing the shifts in height caused by waves and differing traffic loads," reads the description of the project on the construction company's website.

The RTA announced in 2014 that the 12-lane Al Ittihad Bridge will eventually replace the Floating Bridge, but that has yet to happen.

In the meantime, the overpass is a beloved and busy landmark in the city.

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Updated: July 01, 2022, 6:01 PM
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