Turkey has revealed plans to build a three level tunnel to cross underneath the Bosphorus.
The $3.5 billion “mega project” is designed to ease Istanbul’s chronic traffic problem.
The building of the tunnel, which will incorporate three sections, two for vehicles and one for trains is expected to take five years to construct.
The mega-tunnel which will be connected to the existing underground railway system and road networks, forms part of a build-operate-transfer system and will not be funded by the government, Transportation Minister Lütfü Elvan said at a ceremony unveiling the project.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the construction of the tunnel will be completed by 2020, though no date has been given yet when a tender will be held for the project.
The 6.5 kilometre tunnel will run from Küçüksu on the Anatolian side to Gayrettepe on the European side, linking the two sides of the Bosporus at 110 meters below sea level. Davutoğlu said the tunnel will significantly reduce the transportation time between various centres of İstanbul.
The project was announced ahead of parliamentary elections in June. Davutoğlu praised the project as the forerunner of the rise of the “fourth big power after the three empires” that had İstanbul as their capital.
“We are marching towards a brand new İstanbul with this mega project,” said Davutoğlu. “Most importantly, it is the harbinger for the new Turkey.”