ISTANBUL

Turkey on Saturday will lay the foundation for Canal Istanbul, a government mega-project connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and championed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The mega project which Erdogan, then-prime minister of Turkey in 2011, revealed as his “dream,” will see laying foundation of its first bridge to be built over the canal following 10 years of process with surveys, preliminary projects as well as field studies along with an environmental impact assessment report.

Canal Istanbul — to be built on the Turkish metropolis’ European side within the borders of Istanbul’s Kucukcekmece, Avcilar, Basaksehir, and Arnavutkoy districts — will be around 45 kilometers (28 miles) in length, 275 meters (902 feet) in base-width, and 20.75 m (68 ft) in-depth.

Following the announcement of the project by Erdogan, the route evaluation studies of Canal Istanbul were carried out by various universities in 2011-2013.

While determining five different corridors for Canal Istanbul, detailed sub-parameters for each corridor were taken into account. When the corridors are examined in terms of land topography, feasibility, cost, development plans, and their effects on water resources, the route following the east of Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere Dam-Terkos was determined as the most suitable one.

In 2013-2014, a preliminary project of the route was prepared after geological and geotechnical data obtained from the drilling works on the route determined for the canal.

By examining the artificial waterway experiences in the world, a road map of the survey project works was prepared, and preliminary studies for the survey project were carried out in 2014-2017.

Detailed field, laboratory studies, and environmental impact assessment report process of Canal Istanbul were conducted in 2017-2019.

A total of 204 academics and experts from various universities and institutions worked for the Canal Istanbul project.

A marina, container ports, recreation area, and logistics center as an additional project component to the facilities and structures required for Canal Istanbul are also planned to be built.

The project’s total cost is projected at 75 billion Turkish liras ($8.6 billion) and is expected to be built under public-private cooperation. In the meeting where Erdogan announced the project, he also said the project would be financed entirely through national resources.

Following a tender process, the project is expected to be completed in seven years, with around one and half years of preparatory works and five and half years of construction.

Six bridges will be built over Canal Istanbul, which will transform Istanbul into a city with two seas.

Cities with 250,000 residences are planned to be built on both sides of Canal Istanbul.

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.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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