Construction of new road cutting through ODTÜ’s forest starts after deal with Ankara governor’s office

Construction of new road cutting through ODTÜ’s forest starts after deal with Ankara governor’s office

Murat Yılmaz – ANKARA
Construction of new road cutting through ODTÜ’s forest starts after deal with Ankara governor’s office The construction of a new road set to cut through Middle East Technical University’s (ODTÜ) forested campus in the capital Ankara started on Sept. 9, after the university and the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality agreed on the details of the road in a protocol signed the previous day upon an instruction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

The launch of the construction, slated to connect Bilkent City Hospital to the city center, came after the university and the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality met on Sept. 8, with the Ankara Governor’s Office acting as an intermediary, upon the instruction from Erdoğan. 

“We have conveyed the issue to our president. He had instructed: ‘Talk with the university. It is useful to hold a meeting.’ When the situation was like this, we [the governor’s office] came together with the head of the Council of Higher Education [YÖK], Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Melih Gökçek, and ODTÜ rector Mustafa Verşan Kök,” Ankara Governor Ercan Topca told daily Hürriyet.

“First we discussed what the problem is and what the demands are. We have tried to find a middle ground. ODTÜ said they will discuss [the issue] at their committees and will put forth a proposal. They also had some demands regarding the project. They were insistent especially on the tunnel issue,” Topaca said, referring to the 2.1-kilometer-long tunnel project of the 4.8-kilometer-long highway, which will pass through ODTÜ’s campus.

“Along the road, there is a region that consists of a number of trees. The transfer of some of them will be brought to the agenda. The demand of ODTÜ is that more trees than the number knocked down and transferred are planted. Our mayor said if necessary, more than four times would be planted,” Topaca added. 

“The necessity of the road passing through ODTÜ has arisen with the establishment of the 3,800-bed Integrated Health Campus in [the district of] Bilkent. It [the hospital] will go into operation in a couple of months. Some 10,000 people will work [at the hospital campus]. Some 100,000 people will enter and be present [in the hospital] on a daily basis. We have kicked off the problem’s solution. The issue of a road being made was being talked and discussed all along the line,” Topaca said. 

Some 100 heavy construction equipment and 400 trucks belonging to the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality started the construction works of the 4.8-kilometer-long and 50-meter-wide planned highway from an area where the ODTÜ Asyel Sabuncu Guesthouse is located. 

Kök had on Aug. 15 criticized the cut-and-cover construction method of the planned road, saying it would destroy around 24 hectares of the university’s forestland. But the municipality and the university finalized the plans of the road in the Sept. 8-dated meeting.

The governor’s office later released a statement, saying the cut-and-cover construction method would only be undertaken when necessary and the deforestation of the ODTÜ campus would be kept at minimum. 

“No less than twice the number of the trees and bushes to be transferred or taken off as part of the project will be planted in areas ODTÜ will show,” the statement said. 

“In compensation for 36 hectares of areas that will be used as part of the project, no less than 36 hectares of lands neighboring or close to the ODTÜ campus will be allocated to ODTÜ under the coordination of the Ankara Municipality,” it added. 

Gökçek announced the protocol signed on his Twitter account. “I express my gratitude on behalf of the residents of Ankara to the ODTÜ community and management for their gesture to the people of Ankara. I hope that this beginning will as of today pave the way for new collaborations for the Ankara Municipality, ODTÜ, and the people of Ankara,” he tweeted.