New bridge linking Europe and Asia set to open
The Çanakkale 1915 Bridge, a suspension bridge across the Dardanelles Strait, is ready to enter operation, Turkish officials announced on Wednesday.
Ebru Özdemir, chairman of the Board of Directors for Limak Holding, the company responsible for the construction, said that the project was successfully completed.
“We have informed the Ministry of Transport that we are ready. Now we are in the final preparation phase. And we are waiting for the date of opening,” he said, as quoted by the Turkish newspaper Akşam. He also noted that the bridge could have been opened three months earlier if it was not for Covid-19-related issues the workers had to deal with.
The initial cost of the project was estimated at $2.8 billion, but according to Özdemir its price increased by more than $300 million due to the pandemic-related increase of commodity prices and to supply-chain problems.
The 4.6-kilometer-long Çanakkale 1915 Bridge with the world longest midspan of 2,023 meters, is the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is also the only bridge that connects two sides of the Dardanelles Strait, serving as an important link between Europe and Asia.
Construction work began in March 2017 and the official opening is scheduled for March 18, 2022. As part of the Vision 2023 project aiming to increase Turkey’s road, rail and sea transportation capacities, the bridge is connected to the Malkara-Çanakkale Highway and will be the most important part of the 101-kilometer route. When the highway chain around the Marmara Sea is formed upon completion of the project, it will greatly improve the flow of traffic and ease congestion problems.
Elements of the Çanakkale 1915 bridge are stylized as artillery shells, a tribute to the famous World War I Battle of Gallipoli, and its record 2,023-meter midspan is a reference to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, which the country celebrates next year.