Work on tearing down the old Jamarat Bridge and clearing out the debris began in earnest as soon as the 2006 Hajj season ended so that two of the four levels of the new bridge would be ready for the 2007 Hajj. Certainly enough, by the following year the pilgrims enjoyed part of the superb new project that made their movement to perform the rituals of the Hajj smoother.
The design of this multi-level bridge aims at reducing the congestion on the bridge at any one time or point and avoiding the occurrence of a stampede that could result in deaths and injuries similar to the 2006 tragedy.
The projected cost of developing the Jamarat Bridge and the surrounding affected areas was over four billion Saudi riyal (£695 million). The whole project was planned for completion in two to four years and it is almost complete as scheduled.
The problem was with the high density of the pilgrims at the entrance points of the bridge and the design of the new bridge depends on fragmenting that density and reaching the pilgrims instead of waiting for them to reach the throwing of the pebbles area, the three pillars representing Satan.
The new bridge, designed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj at Umm Al-Qura University, has 10 entrances distributed on the four levels plus the ground floor to accommodate the pilgrims coming from different directions.
The ground and first levels of the bridge are for pilgrims coming in from east Mina, who represent the highest percentage of pilgrims. The second level is for pilgrims coming in from Makkah and the third from north Mina and the new Hajj residences. The fourth level is for pilgrims coming in from south Makkah through King Abdul Aziz Road. By distributing the pilgrims through these entrances their density is fragmented before they reach the throwing site.
There are also three main tunnels transporting vehicles and keeping them outside the area. These tunnels will be connected to service towers for garbage collectors, ambulances and other services. There is also a tunnel to be used by special delegations and VIPs. The project includes preparing the area for the bridge, removing some of the tents and relocating them, and correcting the route of some roads and paths, as well as providing water, electricity and other services. The project was implemented under the supervision of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.
The design of the bridge takes into consideration the environmental aspects and agrees with the shape of the valley and the surrounding area. It is designed to accommodate three to four pilgrims per square metre, with a total capacity of almost three million pilgrims during the peak five-and-a-half hours.
Additional levels can be added to the bridge if needed in the future that are also connected to the locations specified.
The bridge is connected to service towers and has a helicopter landing area.
It is 90 metres wide and the top level is covered with a similar material used for the tents – rather than concrete – to provide shade for the pilgrims from sun and rain.
The bridge has the same shape as the throwing of the stones area for a streamlined movement. Many technological facilities and services are available to facilitate movement, clearing of the stones, cleaning and emergencies, which will reduce the work pressure on the on-the-ground personnel.
The project is composed of the following components
It consists of five floors (ground floor plus four floors). In the design it was taken into consideration that pilgrims would be able to go back to the same place they came from after they are done with the throwing of the stones. The first floor serves pilgrims who arrive from Mina and exit ramps will lead them back to Mina. The same applies to the second floor for pilgrims coming from Makkah. The third floor serves pilgrims coming from the northern areas and King Fahd Road. The fourth floor serves Rabwat Al-Hadharmah and the upper King Abdul Aziz Road, with estimated total decks area of 388,000m2.
There is a floor below the ground floor for services and emergencies. Its area is estimated at 21,000m2 and it is connected with Souq Al-Arab and Al-Jawharah tunnel and King Faisal street tunnel, with four links to eliminate the movement of cars, buses and equipment in the piazza level.
These are six service buildings; each of these buildings is connected to the Jamarat Bridge at different levels.
There is a helicopter landing area at the top of two out of the six buildings for emergencies and fast service. Also, there is an elevator in each of these two buildings that has a capacity of up to five tonnes to carry an ambulance. The total area of the six buildings reaches 25,000m2.
There are also 11 buildings for escalators: four of them are used as entrances and the rest are used for exits through the four levels to facilitate pilgrim entrance and exit movements. The area of the buildings is estimated by 70,000m2.
The project is provided with two tunnels located north and south of the bridge. Each tunnel connects with the basement of the bridge by two links.
The north tunnel is 1,300 metres long and 32 metres wide. It connects traffic between Souq Al-Arab, Al-Jawhara East, the Al-Shishah area and Al-Hajj Street West.
The southern tunnel is 1,700 metres long, 16 metres wide and it connects King Faisal Street East, the Al-Shishah region and Al-Aziziyyah Street and tunnels, which connect to the west of the Holy Mosque.
Bus parking areas
The project provides four parking areas for buses. Two parking areas are located at the beginning of Souq Al-Arab and the Al-Jawhara tunnel. The third one is located at the beginning of King Faisal Street. The fourth parking area is located at King Fahd Street. The total area of the stations is estimated at 37,000m2 and the quantities of rock cutting work 2,500,000m3.
The project design depended on the piazza expansion to reach King Fahd Street in the north direction and King Faisal Street in south direction, which required rock cutting work of 2,000,000m3.
Dismantling and re-distribution of tents
Completing the expansion works in a suitable way required dismantling and redistributing 33,000m2 of tents in the piazza. It also required dismantling and transporting 50,000m2 of tents to new locations at King Abdul Aziz upper-street and between Al-Shiabin, along with all the services needed, such as bathrooms, kitchens, water tanks and other utilities, which required rock-cutting works of 2,500,000m3.
Removal and reconstruction of toilet buildings
Expansion of the piazza also required removal of more than 1,000 units of existing toilets and reconstructing them outside the piazza limits.
The extension of the piazza, bridge and the new buildings led to the relocation of all ground services and expanding them to suit the new requirements. In addition, it required the removal and reconstruction of water tanks with a capacity of 50,000m3