Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge became Istanbul’s third bridge spanning Bosphorus strait when it was inaugurated on Friday with a ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and other officials including Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Turkish Cyprus President Mustafa Akıncı and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, as well as other senior officials from Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Georgia and Serbia.
“We are connecting continents,” Erdogan said. “We are celebrating together and we are very proud of it. The nation deserves this. With God’s permission, this nation will get what it deserves.This is great day and joyful day.”
The bridge, which cost nearly $3 billion to construct, is the latest in a raft of infrastructure “mega-projects” unveiled by the government.
The 1.4 kilometer (0.9 mile) bridge will carry eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines between Europe and Asia at the entrance of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.
Named after Selim I, the 16th century sultan known for his expansion of the Ottoman empire, the bridge accompanies the July 15 Matryrs’ Bridge -- previously the Bosphorus Bridge -- and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in crossing the Bosphorus.
It is the world’s longest suspension rail bridge and will lead to $1.75 billion-a-year in savings through reduced travel times and energy costs.
All trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be directed to the bridge to ease traffic on the other bridges, as well as cut congestion and pollution in Istanbul.
The fee for automobiles going from the European to the Asian side of the city will be 9.90 Turkish liras ($3.40). There will be no charge for passage from the Asian to the European side.
In addition, the bridge’s pylons are themselves exceptional in terms of height. The longer of the two pylons is 322 metres tall – only two metres shorter than the Eiffel tower.
Renowned French engineer Michel Virlogeux – the designer of the bridge also credited with conceiving the Millau Viaduct in south France and Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Bridge – toldAgence France Presse,"This bridge puts Turkey among the world leaders, it's the most spectacular to have been built in the last years."
The 116-km long highway built as part of the Third Bridge and Northern Marmara Highway Project includes 35 viaducts. The first phase of the highway project was completed by the private sector, which invested an approximate $3 billion, Anadolu Agency reported.
The two other phases will involve the construction of highways and linking roads amounting to a total length of 257 km, expected to be completed and available for public use in 2018.
Istanbulities flock to the new bridge
Thousands of people flocked over the weekend to take photos at Istanbul’s newest Bosphorus Bridge. As crowds gathered, traffic was blocked both over the bridge and on the connection roads.