Europe and Asia have been united since Friday by a new suture. As the culmination of five years of work and a millionaire investment, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cut the inaugural ribbon of the new 1915 Çanakkale bridge, a unique infrastructure, designed to delight lovers of “mega constructions” and curious fact hunters.
There is no other suspension viaduct in the world with a central span as long as its 2,023 meter long one. With such a brand, it can be considered the largest infrastructure of its kind in the world. It easily surpasses, for example, the Akashi Kaikyo, the “Pearl Bridge”, another titan located in Japan and which opened in 1998 with a central section of 1,991 meters.
The new viaduct measures in total, including the approaches, 4.6 kilometers and its gigantic towers reach 318 meters in height, more or less the same as the Chrysler Building in New York or the Global City Square in Guangzhou, China. That its creators have opted for the 2,023 meters for the central section is not a coincidence. In addition to turning the structure into a unique and record-breaking piece, it is also a nod to Turkey’s own history, which on October 29 of next year, 2023, will celebrate the first centenary of the proclamation of its independence.
A viaduct full of historic winks
1915 is also an important date for the Turks: it was the year of the Battle of Gallipoli or Çanakkale Savaşlari, fought in the same environment as part of the First World War. As a final touch, the towers were painted in the colors of the Turkish flag. Beyond the symbolic load of dates, names and tones or the record size of its central section, the viaduct is part of a much larger project of 89 kilometers which includes a highway. The structure is framed, in turn, in the 324 km of the ambitious Kınalı-Tekirdağ-Çanakkale-Savaştepe route.
In addition to the 1915 Çanakkale, the highway incorporates two access viaducts, the same number made of concrete, 43 overpasses, 40 underpasses and a wide array of service areas, operations and maintenance centers and parking. Giving it shape is demanding, yes, a considerable economic effort. The construction of the bridge has cost —according to the Xinhua agency— some 2,500 million euros, although there are media that assure that the final impact may be greater due to the annual payment guarantee included in the construction, exploitation and transfer agreements.
Those who want to use the 1915 Çanakkale will also have to reach for their wallets. To drive on the new bridge you have to pay a toll of 12.2 euros. It is not cheap, but it will make life considerably easier for the inhabitants of the region. The cars that wanted to travel until now between Anatolia and the Gallipoli peninsula had no choice but to jump on a ferry and prepare for a one-hour drive. Not counting waiting times. With the new viaduct underway, the journey takes approximately six minutes.
The construction was carried out by a consortium of Turkish and South Korean companies and required the participation of more than 5,000 workers. The project has its origins five years ago, in 2017, and during its inauguration Erdoğan highlighted the return it will leave in the country through the generation of jobs and wealth. According to Government calculations, the bridge will save 415 million euros per year thanks to fuel savings and the reduction of polluting emissions.
Images | RTE and 1915canakkale.com
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism