Already home to the world's tallest building, Dubai is preparing for a record-breaking arch bridge. Inspired by desert dunes, the flowing structure of Dubai Creek's new bridge will include a 667-m span, outreaching by 125-m China's current record holder, the Chaotianmen Yangtze River crossing.

Dubai's Sixth Bridge will ease chronic congestion over the creek that cuts through the Gulf city. But, with its 205-m-tall main steelwork bifurcated arch, the bridge will also be an "iconic" structure, says Sudhir Jambhekar, Senior Partner at New York-based architect FXFowle International.

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  • FXFowle led the team of consultants which won a design competition held by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) this February. Now ending negotiations with the RTA, Jambhekar hopes soon to sign a design contract for the bridge, estimated to cost $680 million (Dh2.5b).

    Structural input for the competition came from the New York City office of Germany's Schlaich Bergermann and Partner, Stuttgart. But the Dubai office of Parson Transportation, RTA's adviser, will likely lead structural design with Schlaich Bergermann advising, says Jambhekar.

    Rather than have a single structure, the winning design calls for two arched spans. The structure will touch down on a proposed artificial island next to the planned opera house. The smaller arch will span 560-m.

    Whether the main structure will be a pure arch is unclear at this stage. Local observers suggest the structure resembles the difficult "hybrid" arches of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed to the mainland.

    With steep sides and tightly curved crowns, Abu Dhabi's arches must withstand high bending stresses, contributing to fabrication difficulties. However, Jambhekar says the Dubai bridge's buildability has been studied.

    The Dubai bridge will be the first element in a $820 million (3bn) route including 12-km of new highways, according to Mattar Al Tayer, RTA's Chairman and Executive Director. The 12-lane crossing will include central tracks for Dubai's new metro. Reportedly due for opening in 2012, the bridge is part of rush program to increase capacity across the creek and cut chronic congestion.