The Padma Bridge, which at 6.1 km will be Bangladesh’s longest bridge when completed, will cross the Padma River 50 km south of Dhaka, the capital. The bridge’s two-level superstructure will carry four lanes of traffic on the upper level, with a rail line and gas transmission line below. The project also includes 13.8 km of approach roads.

The bridge is being designed by the New Zealand office of Maunsell AECOM, with support from the firm’s Hong Kong office. Design is expected to be completed by December 2010, with construction commencing in 2011 and lasting about three and a half years. Bangladeshi officials predict the bridge will spur development in southwestern Bangladesh and provide better links to the port of Mongla.

The bridge is expected to cost $2.4 billion, of which international aid agencies and development banks are committing $2.25 billion. Funding sources include the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The Bangladesh Bridge Authority will act as the executive agency for the project. The tender for contractors is expected to be issued in February.