Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced an estimated $3.5 billion mega-project for a three-level sub-sea tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, which will connect the city’s two sides with one railway and two highways, cutting travel times to 14 minutes.
“The three-level mega-project will be the signal flare of the Turkish Republic, the fourth global state in Istanbul after three empires,” he told a publicity meeting for the “Grand Istanbul Tunnel” at the Istanbul Congress Center on Feb. 27.
Davutoğlu described the 6.5 km-long tunnel as the first of its kind in the world, comprised of one rail system between two highways for motor vehicles 110 meters under the Bosphorus Strait.
He said the Bosphorus Bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (currently under construction) will be connected to each other once the tunnel is completed.
“The tunnel will both reduce the traffic load on the bridges and enable maximum time saving,” Davutoğlu added.
The tunnel is planned to be integrated into nine railed systems and connected to the Marmaray line, and will connect Istanbul’s three airports and nine rail systems with land routes.
6.5 million passengers
Prime Minister Davutoğlu said the transportation capacity of the tunnel will be 6.5 million passengers, adding that the structure will increase the annual figure crossing Istanbul’s two sides from 1.6 million to 4 million.
He also trumpeted the green credentials of the project, which he claimed would curb greenhouse gas emissions by 110,000 tons a year.
The new route will shorten the journey time to 14 minutes between the Arnavutköy district on the European side and the Küçüksu district on the Anatolian side, where the two tunnel exits will be built.
As for security in the tunnel, Davutoğlu said fire detection and alarm systems and surveillance cameras will be placed all along its length as well as at waiting spots every 500 meters.
The railway level of the tunnel will also be equipped with automatic signaling and auto-deceleration and acceleration systems.
Davutoğlu added that the tender bids for the project will be completed before the June 7 general election, and they aimed to put the tunnel into service within five years.
’10 months of intense work’
Speaking at the opening of the publicity meeting, Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan said the mega-project is the product of around 10 months of intense work, in which they analyzed Istanbul’s route profile and the demands of the passengers.
Elvan emphasized that the tunnel would increase the role of the railway system in public transportation in Istanbul.
The sub-sea tunnel will be built with a “build-operate-transfer model” in the form of a public-private-partnership scheme, so “the state will not pay a single penny,” he said.
Some 2,800 workers are planned to be employed throughout the construction of the project and 800 workers once it goes into operation.