World Bulletin / News Desk
The Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, built above the Bosphorus, was named after 16th century Ottoman Sultan Selim I, whose rule marked the expansion of the burgeoning world power in the Middle East.
According to Turkish officials, it is estimated that the “longest suspension bridge to have a railway system” in the world will save $1.75 billion annually in terms of time loss and energy costs.
The bridge is also expected to provide a solution to the city's air pollution as well as traffic congestion, the officials claimed.
The government has guaranteed to the operators that 135,000 automobiles will use the bridge each day. The fee for automobiles going from the European to the Asian side will be 9.90 Turkish lira ($3.4).
There will be no charge for passage from the Asian to the European side.
The bridge is 1.4 kilometer long (0.9 mile) and 59 meters wide and boasts eight road lanes as well as two rail tracks.
It has been built as a part of the Northern Marmara Motorway Project, which has been planned in three phases. The first phase of the project has been completed by the private sector, which invested an approximate $3 billion.
The other two phases will involve the construction of highways and linking roads amounting to a total length of 257 km. They are expected to be completed and available for public use in 2018.
On March 6, the final and middle section of the bridge was placed during a ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“When we laid the foundation of the bridge on May 29, 2013, some people were saying, ‘it will not happen’. When they were saying this, we told them: ‘No, we will connect Europe and Asia with Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge’ and it will be the most important message from us to the world,” Erdogan said.
“Only those who think big are able to realize such projects,” the president added.
On Aug. 17, Turkish Transport, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said that there had been no disruption to the country’s major infrastructure projects despite the July 15 coup attempt
Arslan struck an upbeat note, saying: “If possible, they will be finished earlier.”
The minister denied there had been any technical or financial obstacles to finishing the country’s mega projects, which include Istanbul's third airport, a finance center and the Kanal Istanbul artificial sea route.