Without much ado a series of multi-billion dollar infrastructural projects is being implemented in the greater Istanbul area, leading to an unprecedented infrastructure boom that at present goes unrivaled in Europe. Some projects are not without discussion (third airport, the canal), others perhaps too long delayed (the expansion of the metro network for example), but one thing is for sure: their impact on Istanbul will be huge. My blog of a few weeks ago was about the construction of Istanbul’s third airport (scheduled to become the world’s largest) and the to be renewed Salıpazarı-Karaköy Cruise Port with an expansion from ½ mln to 3 million cruise tourists annually.
Many more infrastructural projects however are planned; a third bridge over the Bosporus and two more tunnels; the largest container terminal of Turkey; a new waterway that will run parallel to the Bosporus; 100’s kilometers of new metro lines and a ring road around the sea of Marmara including impressive new bridges.
The third bridge over the Bosporus (ready end of 2015)
“Commuters in Istanbul experience the worst traffic congestion overall. The average 30 minute drive in the city will take over an hour during evening rush hour, leading to an extra 125 hours wasted stuck in traffic every year”, TomTom’s Traffic Index reports. A third bridge over the Bosporus-aimed at decreasing the traffic burden on the other two bridges, in particular by obliging heave vehicles to use the 3rd bridge- is currently under construction and almost complete. 1.8 bln Euro was needed to build this bridge, consisting of eight lanes and two railway lines. The railway lines will connect the Marmaray, the subway system, Atatürk, Sabiha Gökçen and the third Airport (under construction) with each other. A connection with the railway network will link Edirne with Izmit.
The 59-metre-wide bridge will be the widest and highest suspension bridge in the world. Land prices are soaring since new commercial and industrial zones are expected to emerge at the less urbanized areas around the new bridge and the Northern Marmara Motorway. The construction of the new cross-water connection with all its promises of economic progress also leads to the disappearance of many green areas and wetlands at the edge of the city. A particular challenge will be the growing demand for clean drinking water on one hand and less water resources on the other.
Eurasia Tunnel: ‘Asia and Europe to join under the seabed’ (ready end of 2016)
The plan to construct a road tunnel, crossing the Bosphorus strait, already existed as early as in 1997. Since then, many studies have been done, resulting in the present construction of a 14.6 kilometer-long tunnel from Kazlıçeşme (Europe) to Göztepe (Asia). The tunnel, costing approximately 1.3 billion USD, is planned to become operational by end-2016.
The tunnel is only accessible for light vehicles. It decreases the travel time between Kazlıçeşme and Göztepe with almost 1.5 hour. The first tunnel was opened in 2013, for trains only. A third tunnel, for both vehicles and trains, is scheduled before 2020.
It is always difficult to predict what is going to happen, but Istanbul might be one of few world cities where new infrastructure will grow faster than the population (250.000 new inhabitants every year).