A new tunnel which will connect the European and Asian continents in Istanbul was begun on Saturday.
At the ceremony, the prime minister said that the new tunnel would reduce the current crossing of the Marmara Sea from 100 minutes to 15 minutes.
The tunnel boring machine, known as a mole began carving out the route for the tunnel that will be a sister tunnel to the existing Marmaray railway tunnel, and will connect the Asian and European sides of the Istanbul Strait via a road tunnel going under the Marmara Sea.
“There are four such tunnels in New York that enable a sub-sea passage for light vehicles; one in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and another similar highway tunnel in France. We are now bringing in the most modern and developed road tunnel to Istanbul,” Erdogan said.
He added that once the Eurasia Tunnel was completed, Istanbul would have four road crossings between the two continents, including The Bosphorus Bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Marmaray.
“Hopefully, the suffering known as ‘bridge traffic’ will become a thing of the past,” Erdogan said. The tunnel boring machine will advance 10 meters a day on average from the Asian side to the European one.
The Eurasia Tunnel, at 14.6 kilometres, will operate on the route between Kazlicesme and Goztepe where vehicle traffic is the densest in Istanbul. It is only intended for light vehicles such as cars and minibuses. Heavier vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians will not be allowed to use the tunnel.
A two-storey tunnel will run for 5.4 kilometres under the seabed and the remainder of the route will consist of expanded and improved roads for 9.2 kilometres on the European and Asian sides
Not only will the travel time for Istanbul’s highly congested traffic be reduced, but it will also become safer and more comfortable, officials claim, adding that it will also contribute to the reduction of environmental and noise pollution.