First road tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus opens

First road tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus opens

First road tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus opens

AFP photo

The Eurasia Tunnel, the first ever road tunnel underneath the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, opened on Dec. 20 in an official ceremony with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. 

The tunnel is slated to open to service early on Dec. 21 for a 15 Turkish Lira ($4.2) entrance fee until the beginning of 2017. 

“The toll fees which will be collected until this date will be offered to martyrs’ families,” stated Erdoğan in his speech at the ceremony, also thanking officials and companies for their efforts for the project. 

The project is being constructed using a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model that will ultimately cost $1.2 billion. Some 960 million of the amount was provided through international loans, while the remaining amount was financed by the project holders Yapı Merkezi and SK E&K. The project was contracted in 2009 through a joint Turkish-Korean venture later named Eurasia Tunnel Operation Construction and Investment (ATAS). After the completion of the project, the company will run the tunnel for the next 24 years and five months, when the tunnel’s operational rights will be transferred to the state.    

Erdoğan noted that the project would make a contribution of around 150-180 million liras to the Treasury annually for a 24-year term. 

The tunnel will be open between 7.00 a.m. and 9 p.m. until the end of January 2017, when it will remain open 7/24, according to officials. 

The 3.34-km tunnel crossing under the sea, which is also dubbed as the “Istanbul Straight Road Crossing Project,” will connect the two continents for a second time under the water. 

The total distance of the tunnel will be 5.4 kilometers, 3.34 kilometers of which will be under the sea.

Together with access roads, the Eurasia Tunnel Project’s total distance will be 14.6 kilometers. At its deepest point, the tunnel will be 106.4 meters below the surface of the Bosphorus Strait.

Officials say the Eurasia Tunnel will provide a solution to Istanbul’s traffic problems by decreasing travel times on the route from around 100 minutes to 15 minutes between the Kazlıçeşme district on the European side and the Göztepe district on the Asian side.         

The tunnel has also been designed in order to be resilient to earthquakes and tsunamis, and can even be used as bunker if necessary.