“We have arrived at the stage of holding a tender for Kanal Istanbul. We will launch the tender for the project, and construction work will start this year,” Turhan told a press conference in Ankara.
With Kanal Istanbul, the government is aiming at opening an artificial seaway between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea to mitigate the oil tanker traffic through the Bosphorus Strait as well as constructing new earthquake-resistant residential areas along the channel.
The 45-kilometer canal, which is planned to be built west of the city center on the European side of Istanbul province, is projected to have a capacity of 160 vessel transits a day.
“A number of international companies and credit agencies have expressed interest in Kanal Istanbul either by sending official letters or verbally. Firms from Russia, China, the Netherlands and Belgium are interested in the project,” Turhan said.
“We will protect the Istanbul Strait from accidents and dangerous shipments. We will keep the Istanbul Strait open to sea traffic but provide an alternative to it,” the minister added.
A total of 41,112 vessels passed through the Istanbul Strait – also known as the Bosphorus Strait – in 2019, recent data from the Transport Ministry showed.
Projects in the pipeline
A tender is planned this year for a third underwater tunnel beneath the Bosphorus Strait, this one combining both road and railway passages, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turhan as saying during the press conference.
The Grand Istanbul Tunnel contract will have the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, according to the minister, who noted that the three-level mega-project will integrate with the Yenikapı-Sefaköy subway line.
After completion, the tunnel is set to be used by some 6.5 million people annually to travel between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul.
Touching on a bridge now being built across the Çanakkale Strait, northwest of the Bosphorus and joining the Sea of Marmara, Turhan stressed that construction of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge is ongoing.
Saying that public-private partnership investments in Turkey now total 776.6 billion Turkish Liras ($313.14 billion), he added that motorways make up a major part of these investments.
“Seventy-seven Turkish provinces are connected to each other via divided roads with a total length reaching 27,181 km,” he underlined.
He added these divided roads provide savings of 18.1 billion liras ($3 billion) annually by shortening travel time and reducing fuel consumption.
On the new mega Istanbul Airport, Turhan said since it opened last October, it saw 330,574 aircraft and 55 million passengers.
Turhan highlighted that the number of airports in Turkey more than doubled from 26 in 2003 to 56 now.
Hurriyet Daily News