Er­do­gan takes spin in Bospho­rus road tun­nel

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan went for an in­au­gu­ral spin yes­ter­day in Is­tan­bul’s lat­est megapro­ject: the first-ever road tun­nel link­ing the city’s Euro­pean and Asian sides un­der the Bospho­rus Strait. The tun­nel will open to the pub­lic on De­cem­ber 20 but Er­do­gan, ac­com­pa­nied by Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim and Trans­port Min­is­ter Ah­met Ar­slan, made the first jour­ney from the Asian side to the Euro­pean side in a black car.

Con­struc­tion of the 5-km-long tun­nel be­gan in Feb 2011 and has two lev­els which will be open to traf­fic. Travel across the two sides of Is­tan­bul will be cut down to 15 min­utes from 100 min­utes, the pres­i­dency said on its web­site. It will cost $4 plus VAT to use the Avrasya (Eura­sia) tun­nel, Ar­slan said. It is the lat­est in a se­ries of key in­fra­struc­ture projects in Is­tan­bul in­clud­ing the city’s third air­port due to open in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2018.

In its first phase, the air­port will have an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 90 mil­lion pas­sen­gers but will later have be able to han­dle 150 mil­lion trav­ellers. This would mean the $29 bil­lion air­port over­takes the to­tal com­bined traf­fic of 140 mil­lion peo­ple who pass through Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Lon­don Heathrow, mak­ing it Europe’s largest air­port. In Au­gust, Er­do­gan in­au­gu­rated the city’s third bridge - one of the long­est suspension bridges in the world over the Bospho­rus, just over a month after a rogue mil­i­tary fac­tion tried to oust him from power in the July 15 failed coup.

Speak­ing after he made the drive, Er­do­gan ex­plained that 156 mil­lion peo­ple have crossed from the Asian side to the Euro­pean side since Oct 2013 when the Mar­maray un­der­ground rail­way tun­nel opened link­ing the two sides of the Bospho­rus. “It was all a dream come true,” he added, re­fer­ring to the project which has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved pub­lic trans­port for the city’s 15 mil­lion res­i­dents by mak­ing it quicker to get across the two sides.

Dubbed the “project of the cen­tury”, the Mar­maray was the first gi­ant project ini­ti­ated by the pres­i­dent who was then prime min­is­ter. “Of course, we also knew this: without a dream, noth­ing real can be achieved. This is work that can be done and was achieved by those with faith and per­se­ver­ance,” the for­mer mayor of Is­tan­bul said, ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dency’s web­site.

IS­TAN­BUL: Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan (right) drives a car with Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim through the Euroa­sia tun­nel dur­ing a visit to the con­struc­tion site for first test-drives yes­ter­day. — AFP

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