BIGGER THE BETTER

Turkey 2014 | TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE | FOCUS: RECENT TRANSPORT PROJECTS

The Turkish government is rolling out a set of megaprojects that aim to boost economic performance in time for 2023.

Utilizing the public-private partnership (PPP) and build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, Turkey continues to plow toward its mega-infrastructure projects, each one seemingly more grandiose and ambitious than the next. Hoping to fully realize the potential of Turkey's geographic advantage and in line with the government's goals of establishing the country as the region's logistics hub, TL46 billion of the national budget was spent on infrastructure projects in 2013. This represented 30% of the total investment budget for that year, or slightly under 4% of GDP.

EURASIA TUBE TUNNEL

The project broke ground in February 2011 and major excavation work for the Eurasian Tube Tunnel project began in April of 2014. Called the “Sister of the Marmaray Tunnel," this project also connects the two continental sides of Istanbul via a tunnel beneath the Bosphorus. After the projected completion date in 2016, the Eurasia Tube Tunnel will eventually carry up to 90,000 vehicles per day between Europe and Asia.

The TL2 billion plus Eurasia Tube Tunnel is being constructed by a joint venture between Turkey's Yapı Merkezi and South Korea's SK E&C, and they will build and operate the tunnel for 25 years, 11 months and nine days before transferring it to the Directorate General of Infrastructure Investments (AYGM).

The direct path created by the tunnel is expected to shave down travel times between Kazlıçeşme, on the European side, and Göztepe, in Asia, from the current length of 100 minutes to a mere 15 minutes. The entire project is 14.6 kilometers in length, including a 5.4-kilometer length consisting of a two-story underground tunnel. The project will also link Göztepe to the Ankara-Istanbul State Highway. Beyond reducing the level of traffic between one of Istanbul's most heavily congested areas, the tunnel will also reduce the amount of noise and environmental pollution.

YAVUZ SULTAN SELIM BRIDGE

Originally dubbed the third Bosphorus bridge, this massive project will provide an intercontinental link further north along the Bosphorus. The project is on target to meet its scheduled opening date of May 29, 2015. Despite concerns from environmentalists and urban planners, ground was broken for the İçtaş and Astaldi-led project on May 29, 2013.

At over TL4.5 billion, the third bridge is one of the largest BOT projects currently underway in Turkey. Part of the larger 260-kilometer-long Northern Marmara Motorway, the third Bosphorus bridge will eventually become the longest combined motorway/railway bridge in the world and the world's ninth longest suspension bridge. The bridge's suspension towers, planned to be the tallest in the world at 320 meters high, have already been erected on both banks of the Bosphorus earlier in 2014.

GEBZE-IZMIR MOTORWAY

Before being overshadowed by the third Istanbul airport tender, the Gebze-Izmir motorway project was the largest BOT project in Turkey's history. With another $600 million loan expected to be signed to finance the Organazi-Bursa section of the motorway, the total investment cost of the project has risen to around $7.4 billion.

Outside of Istanbul, the massive Gebze-Izmir motorway project recently signed a $600 million loan with eight banks for the Orhangazi to Bursa section of the project. This brings the total cost of investment to around $7.4 billion. The build and operate phase of the project will last for 22 years and four months, before the concessionaire company Otoyol transfers the motorway to the government. After Yüksel's exit from the project in late 2013, the Otoyol consortium currently consists of four Turkish companies—Nurol, Özaltın, Makyol, and GÖÇAY—and Italy's Astaldi.

Opened in 2010, the 421 kilometer-long and six-lane wide motorway is halfway to its targeted 2018 completion date. The motorway will also boast the world's second largest suspension bridge (at 1,700 meters) and Turkey's longest tunnel (at 7,020 meters) all helping to effectively halve the travel time between Istanbul and the country's third largest metropolis.

THIRD ISTANBUL AIRPORT

Construction work began earlier in 2014 for Turkey's largest BOT project, the third Istanbul airport. The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon consortium won the tender with a €26.14 billion bid, which includes an operational period of 25 years. Once all of the phases of the project are fully implemented, the new airport will have the capacity to handle 150 million passengers annually, making it one of the largest in the world.