Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced plans to develop a triple deck tunnel below Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait.
The US$3.5bn (£2.35bn) Grand Istanbul Tunnel scheme will carry road traffic on two decks and a rail route on the other deck in a bid to significantly cut journey times between the two parts of the city.
Davutoğlu described the 6.5 km-long tunnel as the first of its kind in the world, as it is comprised of one rail system between two highways for motor vehicles 110m under the Bosphorus Strait.
According to Davutoğlu, tender bids for the project will be completed before the 7 June general election. He said that the aim is to complete the overall project and put the tunnel into service within five years.
Speaking at the launch of the project, transportation, maritime and communications minister Lutfi Elvan said the project is the result of around 10 months of intense development work which involved analysis of Istanbul’s existing road and rail routes and passenger demand.
Elvan added that the tunnel will the raise the role of railway system in public transportation in Istanbul and remove reliance on road transportation. He also said that the sub-sea tunnel will be constructed with a build-operate-transfer model so “the state will not pay a single penny”.