Third bridge over Bosphorus to be opened today
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday inaugurates Istanbul's third bridge to span the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia. The bridge is named after the 16th century Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim (Yavuz) who conquered swathes of the Middle East in an extraordinary eight year rule and remains a figure of adulation for modern day Turks.
The bridge is an architectural marvel spanning the steep banks of the Bosphorus at the entrance to the Black Sea. It is the widest suspension bridge in the world with a width of 58.5 metres (192 feet). Its span of 1408 metres (4,619 feet) is the longest in the world between the supporting pylons.
It will also carry railway lines as well as vehicle traffic, making it the world's longest suspension bridge with a railway. Its support pylons are just one metre lower than the Eiffel Tower at 323 metres (1,060 feet).
The groundbreaking ceremony for Istanbul's $3-billion third bridge was held in May 2013. The bridge has been built by a South Korean joint venture of the Hyundai and SK Group companies with the total cost of the project put at $800-900 million.
It will help relieve congestion in the traffic-clogged city and also provide an essential artery to the new Istanbul airport that is being built close to the Black Sea.
"The bridge will relieve traffic in Istanbul by 30 percent and relieve pressure on the two other bridges," Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told AFP.