Record-long Black Sea tunnel opens after 137 years

Record-long Black Sea tunnel opens after 137 years

RİZE - Doğan News Agency
Record-long Black Sea tunnel opens after 137 years

Turkey’s record-long highway tunnel through the Ovit Mountain in the country’s northeast has opened some 137 years after the project was first introduced in the Ottoman era.

The tunnel was opened early on Nov. 22 despite ongoing construction works, after the existing passage on the mountain to the Black Sea province of Rize from the eastern province of Erzurum was blocked by heavy snowfall.

All cars passing through a single tube in the tunnel from both sides were escorted by officials to avoid any accidents in the lack of illumination.

The 14.7-kilometer tunnel originally consists of two tubes. It will become Turkey’s longest highway tunnel once officially opened. The Turkish government says it is the third longest in the world.

The project was first introduced in 1880 as part of development plans of the Ottoman Empire. However, the initial construction began in 1930, after modern Turkey was founded. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan re-launched the project in 2012, when he was a prime minister.

On Nov. 11, 2016, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım held a ceremony to mark the first linking of both sides.

The tunnel is set to cut through Ovit Mountain, which is located between İkizdere district in Rize and the İspir district in Erzurum, to bypass a route that is hampered by bad weather conditions during winter.

Some 600 people have been working on the project.