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Minister

Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan said on Monday that Istanbul’s third bridge across the Bosporus would be opened in October 2015.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Elvan said “The towers of the third bridge have reached 312 meters in height and another 10 meters remain for completion. We aim to launch the opening of the bridge on Oct. 29, 2015.” The bridge, also known as Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, will opened on the 86th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

Commenting on opposition from European media regarding the third airport in Istanbul, Elvan said “the national will and demand of our nation are important for us. Transport infrastructure, such as the third airport, the third bridge, are our citizens’ top priority… No one can prevent us from building them.”

The construction of Istanbul’s third airport, set to be the biggest air transfer hub in Europe when it opens in 2018, began in June this year. In 20 years’ time, the commercial aircraft traffic at Istanbul airports will exceed 1 million aircraft and will host 118 million passengers per year, according to a 2010 forecast by Turkey’s Middle East Technical University.

The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon Consortium, a joint venture of Turkish companies, won the tender for the third Istanbul airport in May 2013, promising to pay the state 22.1 billion euros, plus taxes, over 25 years starting in 2017.

Elvan also said the infrastructure works of Ordu-Giresun Airport, located off Turkey’s Black Sea coast, were completed while the superstructure efforts were still ongoing. The minister said they wanted to open the airport – built on an artificial island – to service on March of 2015.

Elvan unveiled a future transportation project during his speech and said they planned to construct a railway over the Dardanelles Strait.

The minister said the government would make a TL 8.5 billion ($3.68 billion) investment in railways in 2015 and added they planned TL 12 billion investments per year after 2016.

Elvan also said Turkey wanted to launch the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail route by the end of 2015, which will link Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

“The country started building its railways in the mid-19th century during the Ottoman Empire and the development of the railways also continued during the first years of the Republic of Turkey,” Elvan said. “But development was neglected until 2003, when the AK party came to power in Turkey. We increased investment in railways to TL 8.5 billion from TL 3-TL 4 billion a few years ago,” he said.

The country aims to reach its goal of 25,000 kilometers of rail line, with 3,500 kilometers for the high-speed train railway and 8,500 kilometers for the regular railway, by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish Republic.

A new town planned to be established in the vicinity of Istanbul will be designed solely for bicycles and electric cars, a Turkish minister revealed in an attempt to emphasize the government’s sensitivity on environmental issues.

“In many parts of this city, we will create residential areas where only bicycles and electrical cars will be able to enter. These projects will be ambitious worldwide and will greatly increase Istanbul’s brand value,” Environment and Urbanism Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said during a conference on the topic of “green cities” in Ankara, Sept. 19.

Bayraktar also said that similar projects are set to be adopted in other big metropolis, such as Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Adana and Diyarbakır.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had launched a series of large-scaled projects in Istanbul, which include the creation of two new cities – one on each side of the Bosphorus – along with a third airport, a third bridge and the self-proclaimed “crazy” Istanbul canal.

The new cities are designed to host a population of 1 and 1.5 million residents respectively, Bayraktar said, while he also defended the frequently decried urban renewal projects.

Bayraktar said priority would be given to build ecological residential areas, insisting they would be stipulating the new household’s inclusion of wind and solar energy systems and methods to recycle rainwater.

He also stressed that a large part of the “the household stock” was not structurally robust enough to handle the prospect of a natural disaster, particularly an earthquake.

Although being ambitious, the social effects of most the urban renewal projects, led by the omnipresent Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), are criticized for altering the demography of traditional neighborhoods and displacing local residents, as well as creating a sterile living environment.

The government, on the other hand, justifies the booming projects with the urgent need of building secure houses, particularly in Istanbul where a strong earthquake is expected in the near future.

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