Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Tunnel under the Bosphorous puts Asia 15 mins away

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, December 23rd 2016 à 14:35 | Read 1887 times

After an investment of more than $1.2bn, the Avrasya road tunnel now links the European and Asian districts of Istanbul. The journey now takes 15 mins instead of 100 previously.

The Avryasa Tunnel has a double-deck tube (photo : Yapi Merkezi)
The Avryasa Tunnel has a double-deck tube (photo : Yapi Merkezi)
TURKEY. Europe is now only 15 mins from Asia. On Tuesday, 20th December, Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated the first road tunnel under the Bosphorous, linking Kazlıçeşme and Göztepe, after his preview visit in October 2016.

At 5.4 km long -3.34 km of which under the Bosphorous- the Avrasya (Eurasia in Turkish) should mark an end to the endless bottlenecks on the bridges linking the two sides of the Straits and reduce the travelling time from (at least) 100 minutes to 15. The project also includes a total of 14.6 km of access roads from the European and Asian sides.

The city's 18 million inhabitants are now spoilt for choice, depending on their level of patience. According to the local authorities, the tunnel should see a throughput of around 120,000 vehicles per day in each direction. It will also be the quickest route between the city's two airports, Atatürk (on the European side) and Sabiha Gökçen (on the Asian side). Speed will come at a cost, however, since tunnel use involves a toll, paid by means of an electronic pass (no option to pay by cash or credit card).

An alternative to the bridges –of which a third, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was opened in August, 2016 – existed since October, 2013, with the inauguration of the Marmaray Rail Tunnel, 14 km long, of which 1.4 is under the water.

An investment of $1.2bn

The tunnel represents an investment of $1.245bn (photo Yapi Merkezi)
The tunnel represents an investment of $1.245bn (photo Yapi Merkezi)
The titanic project, which required 2124 workers and 250 pieces of machinery, was headed by a consortium (Ataş - Avrasya Tüneli Insaat Isletme ve Yatirim) comprising the Turkish private company Yapi Merkezi and the South Korean firm SK Engineering & Construction.

Started in February, 2011, the construction of this single, double-deck tube of 2 x 2 lanes required a specially-built tunnelling machine capable of advancing eight to ten metres per day, in order to descend down to a maximum of 106.4 m under sea level. The tunnel has been designed to resist earthquakes of up to 7.5 on the Richter Scale and tsunamis.

The Atas consortium, which signed a 30-year BOT (Built Operate Transfer) contract in January, 2009, will be responsible for management and maintenance. At the end of this term, the tunnel will be handed over to the public sector.

The $1.245bn in investment was largely financed by international loans totalling $960M. The European Investment Bank (EIB) contributed $350M and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) $150M. The balance was funded by the Export-Import Bank of Korea and other banking institutions in Korea (K-Sure), Turkey (Türkiye İş Bankası, Garanti Bank and Yapi Kredi), Japan (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Mizuho Bank), the United Kingdom (Standard Chartered) and Germany (Deutsche Bank).

These loans were completed by a contribution by Yapi Merkezi and SK E& C of $285M from their own equity. The overall package, therefore, is made up entirely of private funding.

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