Only 75 meters are left to connect the two sides of the 5.4 kilometer undersea motorway tunnel being built between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Transportation Minister Feridun Bilgin said over the weekend. The tunnel, which will be operational at the end of 2016, will connect the Kazlıçeşme neighborhood on the European side to Göztepe in Asia and will cut the travel time between the two congested areas to 15 minutes.
“There are 75 more meters to dig under the sea. It is one of the most prestigious engineering projects in the world. The digging started in April 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of the month,” Bilgin said, adding that the project was cited as a successful example of private-public partnership.
The tunnel is also protected against earthquakes through seismic joints planted at two separate sections.
The necessary expansion of current motorways and the building of the connecting roads will be completed next year. The entire project is 14.6 kilometers, with the tunnel taking up 5.4 kilometers. The section directly under the sea will be 3.34 kilometers. The deepest section will be 106 meters under the sea level.
Istanbul is the second-worst European city after Moscow in terms of traffic congestion, according to 2012 data from Europe’s biggest navigation systems company, TomTom.