Turkey’s longest highway tunnel that goes through the Ovit Mountain in the country’s northeast came into service on June 13 with a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“When we first launched this project, people said ‘it was only a dream.’ But we have done it. This project has been talked about since the 1880s,” Erdoğan said.
“The story of the construction of the Ovit Tunnel is the same with our country’s development story,” Erdoğan added.
The idea of building the tunnel first floated more than 130 years ago in the Ottoman era.
The tunnel is set to cut through Ovit Mountain, which is located between İkizdere district in Rize and the İspir district in Erzurum, to bypass a route that gets hampered by bad weather conditions during winters.
The tunnel shortens the 250-kilometer-long Rize-Erzurum highway to 200 kilometers.
The project was first introduced in 1880 as part of development plans of the Ottoman Empire.
However, the initial construction began in 1930, after modern Turkey was founded. Erdoğan re-launched the project in 2012, when he was a prime minister.