The countdown has started for the opening of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge in northwestern Turkey, Turkish Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said on Sept. 20.
“As the deck slabs are installed, the construction of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge is completed to a large extent. Only the deck slabs near the towers are to be installed after this. We can say that the countdown has begun for the dreams of centuries,” he said, before walking on the catwalk from the Asian side of the Dardanelles Strait toward the European side of the northwestern Çanakkale province.
The multibillion-dollar bridge’s opening is slated for March 18, 2022, the 107th anniversary of the Ottoman
Empire’s historical victory in the region during the First World War.
“The contractor company has spent 2.3 billion euros for the construction,” said the minister,adding that the government has paid an extra 579 million liras (nearly $70 million) for expropriation.
More than 5,000 workers will continue work round the clock to finish the job before the deadline, he said.
The giant structure will be connected to the Malkara-Çanakkale Motorway and will be the most important part of the 101-kilometer route.
The motorway with the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge will include four viaducts, 12 intersections, 55 bridges and overpasses, 40 underpasses, 238 culverts of various sizes, four highway service facilities, two maintenance operation centers and seven toll collection stations.
The bridge on the Strait of Gallipoli will be included in this network as the most important link in the chain, which will connect Turkey’s provinces bordering Bulgaria and Greece to the Aegean and Mediterranean regions in the south.
“The 1915 Çanakkale Bridge will integrate road transport projects with ports, railway and airway systems in the Marmara and Aegean regions. In brief, the project will not only connect the two sides of the strait, but also millions of people in the near regions,” said Karaismailoğlu.
Currently, road vehicles get across the strait via a half-hour ferry ride, but in the summertime drivers have to wait for hours in long lines. The bridge will reduce the time to pass the Dardanelles to six minutes.
The bridge project will help to save 624 million liras ($72 million) by limiting transport time and 113 million liras (nearly $978,000) in fuel costs, according to estimates.
Construction has been ongoing since the groundbreaking ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 18, 2017.
Upon its completion, the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge will become the world’s longest mid-span suspension bridge with its unique structural characteristics, colors and other features.
Shaped to symbolize an artillery shell as a tribute to the legendary WWI Battle of Gallipoli, the spires will tower 318 meters, with a mid-span of 2,023 meters, symbolizing the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey’s foundation.
In homage to the Turkish flag, the towers of the bridge will be in red and white color, while the total length of the bridge will reach 4,608 meters.