Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has inaugurated the boring of the Eurasia Tunnel Project in Istanbul, saying the scheme will shorten the existing 100-minute cross-strait journey time to 15 minutes, Anadolu Agency reported.
Erdogan made his remarks as he attended the inauguration of the tunnel boring process in a ceremony at Istanbul's Haydarpasa Loading Port on Saturday, where the tunnel boring machine, known as TBM, began carving out the route.
The Eurasia Tunnel will be a brother to the existing Marmaray Tube Passage, 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," he said.
Erdogan said that once the Eurasia Tunnel was completed, Istanbul would have four road crossings between the two continents including The Bosphorus Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Marmaray Tube Passage.
"Hopefully, the suffering known as 'bridge traffic' will become a thing of the past," he added.
Erdogan said the tunnel boring machine will advance 10 meters a day on average from the Asian side to the European one.
- 'Safer and more comfortable'
The Eurasia Tunnel, whose foundations were cast on 26 February 2011, will serve the Kazlicesme-Goztepe route where vehicle traffic is the most intense in Istanbul, and will cover a total of 14.6 kilometers.
The tunnel has been designed for use only by light vehicles such as cars and minibuses.
Heavier vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians will not be able to transit the tunnel.
While 5.4 kilometers of the project will comprise a two-story tunnel to be constructed underneath the seabed, expansion and improvement works are to be carried out over 9.2 kilometers of roads on the European and Asian sides.
Access roads between Sarayburnu-Kazlicesme and Harem-Goztepe will also be enlarged and vehicle underpasses and pedestrian overpasses will be constructed.
Not only will the travel time for Istanbul's highly intensive traffic decline, but it will also become more safe and comfortable, officials say, and it will also contribute to the reduction of environmental and noise pollution.