Istanbul underwater tunnel approaching its ‘last meters’
ISTANBUL-Anadolu AgencyAn underground road tunnel under the mouth of the Bosphorus is meters from being completed, according to officials and project managers.
Istanbulites are hoping the 14.6-kilometer (9-mile) Eurasia Tunnel Project, linking Kazlıçeşme on Istanbul’s European side and the Asian side’s Göztepe, will reduce the city’s notorious traffic.
The project, also known as the Istanbul Strait, could be completed ahead of schedule, Turkey’s deputy minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication has said.
Speaking at the tunnel’s construction site, Yahya Bas said the project will be completed sooner than expected.
The project, aiming to reduce congestion and the dense traffic on the suspension bridges which cross the Bosphorus, is set to open in 2016.
Cars will take 15 minutes to pass through the tunnel, with the passage fare being $4 for each vehicle.
“There are only 780 meters left to dig and complete the tunnel section underwater,” said project engineer Emin Karaman.
According to Karaman, approximately 2.5 km of the 3.4 km section of the “sea tunnel” is finished.
“We have finished the land tunnels. The section of the tunnel under the sea is about to be completed. I believe we will see the first light in the tunnel this August or September,” he said.
Istanbul is the second-worst European city after Moscow in terms of traffic congestion, according to 2012 data from Europe’s biggest navigation systems company, TomTom.
In December 2006, Turkey’s Transport and Communication Ministry tendered the project under the name “Istanbul Bosphorus Tube Crossing Project.”
The project was contracted in 2009 with the cooperation of a Turkish-Korean joint venture, later named Eurasian Tunnel Operation Construction and Investment (ATAS) in 2011.
ATAS will be responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel for a 25-year period.
The Eurasia tunnel will be Turkey’s second underwater project in Istanbul after the “Marmaray,” a railway tunnel underneath the Bosphorus, which has already transported around 21 million passengers in the first six months following its inauguration in October 2013.