Third Bosphorus bridge to be called 'Yavuz Sultan Selim'

Third Bosphorus bridge to be called 'Yavuz Sultan Selim'

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Third Bosphorus bridge to be called Yavuz Sultan Selim

A ground-breaking ceremony for Istanbul’s third bridge was held in the Garipçe area on Istanbul's European side May 29. DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah GÜREL

The groundbreaking ceremony for Istanbul’s controversial $3 billion third bridge over the Bosphorus was held yesterday, on the 560th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans. The ceremony was attended by Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the name of the bridge has been announced as “Yavuz Sultan Selim,” one of the most prominent sultans in Ottoman history.

“We thought a lot about which name should be given to the third bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, and we have decided on Yavuz Sultan Selim,” Gül said at the ceremony.

Istanbul’s first bridge on Bosphorus, which was opened in 1973, has been called “Bosphorus,” and the second bridge was named after “Fatih Sultan Mehmet,” Mehmed the Conquerer, the Ottoman sultan who conquered the city from the Byzantines on May 29, 1453.

The sultan, known as Selim the Grim, was famous for his conquests in the Eastern world, and Turkey’s contemporary border with what is now Iran was determined following the 1514 Battle of Çaldıran  against Şah İsmail of the Safavids. He will become the second sultan to have his name grace a  Bosphorus bridge.

The construction of Istanbul’s third bridge over the Bosphorus was tendered last year as part of the north Marmara motorway project’s Odayeri-Paşaköy section. The tender was then awarded to a consortium consisting of the Turkish IC İçtaş and the Italian Astaldi, which submitted the bid with the shortest term of construction and operation: 10 years, two months and 20 days. The consortium agreed Korean Hyundai and SK would build its lateral towers, aprons and suspension cables.

The consortium is expected to complete the bridge in three years according to the tender specifications. Erdoğan, however, addressed the heads of the companies in the consortium jestingly following his speech at the ceremony yesterday and asked them to finish it in two years, thus opening it for service on May 29, 2015. The heads of the companies smiled and said they would do their best.

New bridge has many firsts

The planned third bridge will feature many firsts. “The new bridge will have eight road lanes and two rail tracks. The 59-meter-wide bridge will be the widest bridge in the world with a railroad on it. Besides, its 322-meter-high lateral towers will be the highest in the world,” Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım said at the ceremony.

The new bridge, which is expected to be about 1.3-kilometer in length, will be built north of the two existing ones, between the Garipçe district on the European side and the Poyrazköy district on the Asian side. When the bridge is completed, all trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be directed to it. “The two existing bridges on the Bosphorus have the vehicle capacity of 250,000 per day, but on a normal day an average of 600,000 vehicles cross the bridges, 2.5 times their capacity. Turkey has lost at least 3 billion Turkish Liras annually due to the labor loss and overconsumption of fuel on the bridges,” Yıldırım added. Many have, however, expressed concern that the construction of the third bridge will lead to the destruction of Istanbul’s remaining green areas near the Black Sea coast while creating new traffic headaches.

Many ‘crazy’ projects under way

The Turkish government has already worked on seven big projects worth $150 billion in Istanbul, which is known as the “city on the seven hills,” like Rome, Yıldırım said yesterday. In addition to these seven projects, such as the third bridge and the third airport, the prime minister announced new projects to be held. “We will turn the island Yassıada, on which one of Turkey’s prime ministers, Adnan Menderes, was executed, into a magnificent center of democracy and tourism. We are never tired of working,” he added.

The ceremony ended with collective prayers both to commemorate martyrs and to celebrate the 560th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul.