Istanbul tunnel link scheme to get underway

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A $1.4bn tunnel project connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul is set to get underway as the project achieved its financial close.

The 5.4km Avrasya Tuneli project will see a 5.4km-long tunnel built under the Bosporus Strait with a view to alleviating traffic on two existing bridges. It will be built at 25m below sea level and will entail the building of around 14.6km of roads in total, including toll plazas, an operations building and approach roads linking the European side of the city to an existing motorway network at Kadikoy on the Asian side.

The tunnel is being built by ATAS – a consortium between Turkish contractor Yapi Merkezi and Korean construction giant SK Engineering & Construction.

It has been funded by a $150m from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a $350m loan from the European Investment Bank and financing from banks including Korea’s Eximbank and K-Sure with Standard Chartered, SMBC and Mizuho also participating. A hedging facility is also being provided by Deutsche Bank.

Engineering consultancy Arup has been acting as lender’s representative on the deal and will monitor the project’s progress. Director Koray Etöz said: “We are very pleased to have played a part in bringing this hugely important project to fruition.

“The road tunnel will bring tremendous benefits right in the heart of Istanbul, easing congestion and reinforcing trade links, so it is great that we now have all the key elements in place to get the works started. We have taken a huge step forward and we look forward to continue working with the project team to ensure that Istanbul gets a key asset securely delivered in 2017.”

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