To realize its goals for 2023, the year when the Turkish Republic celebrates its 100th anniversary, the country is implementing several mega projects. The government is set to lay the foundations of one of the country’s biggest projects, Kanal Istanbul, this year

With the primary focus on the year 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, the country is continuing to progress with firm, fast steps toward becoming a welfare state.

Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said yesterday that Turkey has actualized many major projects such as the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the Osmangazi Bridge, the Eurasia Tunnel and Marmaray, as well as high-speed railways, divided highways, freeways, airports and marinas.

Foundation for Kanal Istanbul to be laid this year, transportation minister says

Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan.

Minister Arslan indicated that they have invested over TL 380 billion ($100 billion) in megaprojects in the past 15 years.

“However, 2018 will be one of the most important years for us. We plan to lay the foundations for the Kanal Istanbul. We have come to the last stage of our project studies and determined the canal’s route,” he said.

“Considering assessment criteria in the completed studies, we have chosen the Küçükçekmece-Sazlıdere-Durusu corridor as the most suitable route for Kanal Istanbul,” he continued. “We are also planning projects such as ports, logistic centers and artificial islands to be integrated with the canal route in this corridor, which will be about 45 kilometers long.”

While determining the canal’s project area, Arslan said, the ministry has revised all environmental and climatic factors, in particular. Winds and deep-sea waves in the Black Sea and Marmara Sea entrances were examined. Parameters related to tsunamis were determined.

Following detailed studies of all recorded data concerning tsunami effects that might occur in the Marmara and Black seas, the preliminary report determined that there will be no negative effects. Modeling studies were carried out in the project area using 25-year wind data.

The effects of waves from passing ships in the channel were evaluated according to worst-case scenarios.

Additionally, the channel route was kept away from the Baklalı and Dursunköy districts to prevent citizens from being affected.

“Our aim is not to adversely affect the Marmara Sea with this project, but on the contrary, to positively affect and to prevent accidents, especially caused by freight transport. Our goal is to lay the foundations of Kanal Istanbul, one of the biggest projects in the world, this year,” Arslan concluded.

Meanwhile, Minister Arslan on Jan. 15 unveiled the final route of the Kanal Istanbul project, a canal parallel to the Bosporus that is planned to connect the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the project to the public in 2011, while he was prime minister.

“We intend to complete the bidding process with a mixed model, including a build-operate-transfer model, and other public-private partnership alternatives, and to launch the project this year,” Arslan has said.

Arslan said the first target in the project of making a new waterway connecting the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea on Istanbul’s European side is to reduce the ship traffic on the Bosporus in Istanbul.

The canal is expected to have capacity for 160 vessels a day and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Arslan said that all the work carried out by the ministry’s General Directorate of Infrastructure Investments and related institutions and organizations were evaluated and that bidding for the preparation, project and consultancy services were held last year, adding that the work was initiated in August 2017.

He said that all studies were done taking into account earthquake risks and the average recurrence of 72 years, 475 years and 2,475 years.

He said that modeling studies were carried out in the project area using wind data from about 25 years. “The wind and deep-sea currents at the entrance of the Black Sea and Marmara Sea related to the project area were examined,” he explained. “The effect of the currents from ship passage in the canal on the side surfaces has been evaluated according to the most negative scenarios and detailed studies are under way.”

Arslan said that 17,000 meters of drilling was completed, including 7,000 meters in addition to the initial 10,000 meters, by the end of 2017, and that they will be used as filling material for excavations from the canal.

Arslan said that when the route studies were carried out, they paid attention to avoid interaction with the Terkos Lake water basin and not to negatively affect Baklalı and Dursunköy residents.

Arslan said that the three passages on the Marmara side are aimed at passing under Küçükçekmece Lake with an immersed tube as with the Marmaray project and they will make all the other alternatives in the north as bridge crossings.

Arslan said that there would not be long-distance viaduct crossings.

He explained that in such a large project, quoting the budget without finishing the canal work, including financing modeling, may be misleading. “But there is a fact that at the moment the biggest project of our country is the third airport with about 10.5 billion euros. This is the biggest project with a rental fee of 22 billion euros for 25 years of operation. However, Kanal Istanbul will be bigger than that,” he said.

Arslan thanked Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and ministries for their contributions to the project.

ERDOĞAN CALLED ON ITALIAN FIRMS TO PARTICIPATE IN PROJECT

Meanwhile, during his official visit to Italy earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged Italian construction companies to take part in Turkey’s Kanal Istanbul project.

He was speaking at a meeting with Italy’s top executives in Rome at an event organized by the Turkish Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT), attended by high-level executives from leading Italian companies, including Pirelli, Elettronica, Cementir, Ferrero, Astaldi, Salini and Leonardo.

Erdoğan said that nearly 1,400 Italian companies currently do businesses in Turkey and they have jointly invested more than $3.1 billion in the country.

The president extended his thanks to Italian investors who have been operating in various sectors for years, for their trust in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Italian investors said they were pleased to be in Turkey and added that they are looking to increase investments and get involved in some large projects in the future. Executives from top Italian construction companies Astaldi and Salini said they are proud to have taken part in the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Mount Bolu Tunnel projects.

Erdoğan urged Italian construction companies to form a consortium and join the Kanal Istanbul project.

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