Laying foundation for Canal Istanbul mega-project’s 1st bridge, president says need to protect Istanbul made it essential
Canal Istanbul will turn a historic “new page” in Turkey’s development, said the nation’s president on Saturday, speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the mega-project’s first bridge called Sazlidere.
Today’s realities – such as threats to the Bosphorus and Istanbul from growing maritime commerce made Canal Istanbul a necessity, stressed Recep Tayyip Erdogan, praising the project he has called his “dream.”
The president said the number of ships going through the Strait of Istanbul annually has jumped from 3,000 in the 1930s to 45,000 today, adding projections foresee up to 78,000 ships possibly making the journey by 2050, with each large ship posing a serious risk to Istanbul.
The Bosphorus, according to calculations, offers a safe passage to 25,000 ships, he related.
“In case of an accident of ships carrying a wide variety of cargoes from petroleum to organic products, the natural life in our seas faces a huge threat. Should the ships hit the shore, both our cultural heritage is damaged and we can face serious destruction and fire,” Erdogan said.
“Canal Istanbul is an essential project to protect the historical and cultural fabric of the Bosphorus strait,” he said. “We consider Canal Istanbul a project to save the future of Istanbul.”
The project will also meet the need for alternative settlement areas required for earthquake preparedness as it will provide residential areas with a capacity of 500,000 people, the president further said.
Emphasizing that the current route was chosen as the most reasonable and efficient line among five different alternatives following scientific studies, Erdogan said: “A total of 204 experts including 51 scientists from 11 different universities worked on the project.”
He further said studies showed that the vessel traffic in Canal Istanbul would be 13 times safer than that in the Bosphorus.
The container port and logistics center, which will be located just to the right of the Black Sea exit of the canal, would bring a breath of fresh air to the foreign trade of Turkey, he also said, adding that the recreation and renewable energy area to the left of the Black Sea exit would add a special value to Istanbul.
Erdogan also voiced hope that the residential areas planned to be built on both sides of the canal with a capacity of 500,000 people would remove the pressure in the city center and the project would be one of the most environmentally friendly projects not only in Turkey but perhaps in the entire world.
The project is aimed to be completed in six years at a cost of approximately $15 billion, the president said.
“Canal Istanbul will easily finance itself with the income to be obtained from the ships passing through it and the income to be obtained from other elements, especially via the port as part of the project.”
Sazlidere Bridge is going to be one of the six bridges planned to be built over the Canal Istanbul, which will have a length of about 45 kilometers (28 miles), a minimum base width of 275 meters (902 feet), and a depth of about 21 meters (69 feet).
The mega-project, which aims to prevent risks posed by vessels carrying dangerous shipments through the Bosphorus strait, was approved by the country’s Environment and Urbanization Ministry.
Erdogan has touted the project, offering an alternate route connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, as necessary for the safety of Istanbul amid growing ship traffic through the Bosphorus, one of the busiest maritime passages in the world.