A third bridge over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul was opened on Aug. 26 with a ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and other top officials, including former President Abdullah Gül, former PM
and Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman.
The ceremony was also attended by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Turkish Cyprus President Mustafa Akıncı and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other senior officials from Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Georgia
and Serbia, as reported by Anadolu Agency.
Erdoğan praised the project, noting that the country would continue to build “mega” infrastructure projects.
“We will also build a similar bridge over the Dardanelles Strait. We will speed up the process for the Canal Istanbul project, and more will follow,” he said during the bridge’s opening ceremony.
The bridge, named the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge after the Ottoman sultan famous for his conquests in the eastern world, has eight road lanes, two rail tracks and is the longest suspension bridge with a railway system in the world. The bridge is 1.4 km (0.9 mile) long and 59 meters wide.
According to officials, the bridge will lead to $1.75 billion in savings annually in terms of time and energy. All trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be directed to the bridge when it is opened.
It has been built by Italy’s Astaldi and Istanbul-based IC İçtaş which will jointly operate it for about a decade.
The Turkish government has guaranteed operators that 135,000 automobiles will use the bridge each day, according to Anadolu Agency report.
The fee for automobiles going from the European to the Asian side of the city will be 9.90 Turkish liras ($3.40). There will be no charge for passage from the Asian to the European side.
The 116-km long highway built as part of the Third Bridge and Northern Marmara Highway Project includes 35 viaducts. The first phase of the highway project was completed by the private sector, which invested an approximate $3 billion, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The two other phases will involve the construction of highways and linking roads amounting to a total length of 257 km, expected to be completed and available for public use in 2018.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Istanbul’s $3-billion third bridge was held in May 2013.
A number of environmentalist groups have protested the plans, saying the bridge and its link roads would destroy forested areas in Istanbul’s north, some of the last remaining green areas around the rapidly expanding city.