Intercontinental traffic locked as thousands in nervous breakdown
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜRELThousands of drivers were left stuck in a traffic jam on Istanbul’s Fatih Sultan Mehmet (FSM) Bridge yesterday, after three additional lanes were closed for repair work, and officials from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Directorate General for Highways said there was no concrete action plan to combat a traffic crisis on the bridge.
Mayor Kadir Topbaş’s press advisor, Ahmet Faruk Yanardağ, said a crisis-management counter was established, but has not yet gotten to work yet and that “the real responsible institution was the Directorate General for Highways.”
In an official statement made yesterday the directorate said the three lanes will be reopened on July 17, but a directorate official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Hürriyet Daily News that “anything could change at any moment; we do not know the exact date either.”
Traffic congestion stretched for kilometers, causing tragicomic scenes on the bridge. Dozens of people who spent hours on the bridge called in to Traffic Radio, Istanbul’s first radio station designed to assist drivers with avoiding current traffic hot spots, asking for “immediate help,” and saying “water and portable toilets were needed immediately.” The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s press office, however, said the FSM Bridge is part of a highway, which makes it impossible for pedestrians “to use the toilet or hang around.”
When the Directorate General for Highways was asked about the situation they also denied responsibility for drivers’ “urgent needs,” such as water or toilets.
“This is unbelievable. People called us saying they were extremely thirsty but could not find
water on the bridge for hours under the killing summer sun,” Cezayir Doğan, the founder of
Traffic Radio, told the Daily News yesterday.
Maintenance work began on the FSM Bridge June 18, closing down two of the bridge’s eight lanes.. Long traffic jams and hours spent commuting every day have become a daily routine for Istanbul residents ever since repair work began, but on July 9 the Directorate General for Highways closed down three more lanes on the bridge, which frustrated drivers.
Some drivers stripped down to their underwear, and some watched TV in their vehicles while waiting for the flow of traffic to resume. On July 10 several drivers got out of their vehicles and started playing football on a stretch of asphalt closed to traffic, just past the toll station and before the beginning of the FSM bridge.