Maybe it just seems like Bechtel has an affinity for huge, challenging projects. It recently reached the halfway mark on London’s daunting Crossrail underground rail system. Now it has embarked on a massive tunneling project beneath Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh.
It's not as if Council Lead Partner Bechtel is going it alone on the $10 billion Riyadh project. It is leading a consortium including Saudi Arabia's Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Co. and Germany's Siemens, a Council Associate Partner.
Not only will the underground rail line be the country's first, Bechtel says it will be one of the largest in the world.
Revolutionizing how people move
"The metro, set to be the cornerstone of Riyadh's new public transport network, will revolutionize how people move around the city. Sending our team's first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step for all," said Amjad Bangash, Bechtel's project director.
Tunneling began on the first of two lines last week and when all is completed, 21 miles of tunnels will have been dug beneath the city. Bechtel and other consortium members are responsible for Lines 1 and 2, which includes design, construction, signaling, electrification, integrating the two lines and the train cars.
The project – referred to as the Riyadh Metro -- involves 39 stations, including the two primary interchange stations, one in the center of Riyadh and another in the King Abdullah Financial District.
First step in a long-range plan
The Riyadh Metro is the first step in a 25-year strategic plan from the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh to accommodate a rapidly growing population. Considered one of the world's fastest growing cities, Riyadh's population is expected to jump 50% in 20 years to 7.5 million.
At its completion, the strategic plan calls for a total of 109 miles and six lines to carry 400,000 passengers.