Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Global firms will manage billions in construction for ambitious Saudi metro program.

Several global consulting firms have won plum contracts for a six-line, 131-station, 106-mile-long mass- transit system for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh Metro Transit Consultants, a joint venture of Parsons Corp., Egis and Systra, won a $556-million contract to manage the first two packages— including lines Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and totaling 104 kilometers—for the ArRiyadh Development Authority. The team will oversee construction of the first three lines, including $10-billion and $6-billion worth of work by design-build teams led by, respectively, Bechtel and Spanish contractor Salini Impregilo (ENR 8/12 p. 17).

Louis Berger and Hill International won the $265-million third contract as Riyadh Advanced Metro Project Execution and Delivery. The team will oversee some $7.8-billion worth of work on lines Nos. 4, 5 and 6; that work will be performed by an FCC-led team.

"The biggest challenge will be building through a thriving city of seven million people with activity at all hours of the day," says Tom Topolski, Louis Berger managing director of Middle East operations. The third package covers 67 km of track with 48 km of elevated alignment, 5.5 km of mined tunnel, 22 stations and nearly 13 km of bored tunnel through some of Riyadh's most congested districts.

Line No. 4, which links to the King Khalid International Airport with a mix of elevated and at-grade sections, includes large stretches of low density, notes Topolski. "The expectation is that [the new metro] will be an economic development tool" in those areas, he adds.

Construction on the metro system is slated to start next year; commercial operations are expected to begin in 2018.