The largest land and railway strategy ever implemented in Turkey will aim to connect the east to the west and the south to the north. China and Russia are among the countries interested in these projects.
According to information Sunday's Zaman obtained from the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which is affiliated with the Ministry of Transportation, the government plans to invest $100 billion in transportation by 2023. In addition to constructing a new strait in İstanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also plans to build two new bridges on the İstanbul and Dardanelles straits. There is also a project to build a new railway from Samsun and Trabzon to the port of Mersin to reduce freight traffic on the Black Sea. Together with a project to extend the oil and natural gas pipeline in Samsun to Ceyhan, the government aims to also complete a two-line railway project by 2023.
Since 2002 the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has opened 12,000 kilometers of divided highway, and the prime minister plans to increase this to 19,000 kilometers by the end of this year. The total length of divided roads will be increased to 32,000 kilometers by 2023. In 2003 the total length of divided highways in Turkey was just 6,500 kilometers, and construction is currently under way to build a further 5,000 kilometers of divided highway.
According to information Sunday's Zaman obtained from the General Directorate of Highways, the AK Party has spent $12 billion on divided highway projects alone and plans to invest an additional $15 billion by 2023.
$100 billion in projects are ready
According to data from the Ministry of Transportation, the AK Party government has invested $41 billion in transportation projects since 2002 and plans to invest a further $100 billion (around TL 150 billion) on transportation projects by 2023.
According to a plan designed at a transportation forum held in 2009, the General Directorate of Highways will continue to work on completing divided highway projects by 2023, while the Ministry of Transportation will implement highway projects on the basis of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, taking high cost rates into consideration. The total cost of BOT highway projects is expected to reach $35 billion.
The first BOT tender by the Ministry of Transportation was for the Gebze-İzmir highway and the İzmit Gulf Crossing Project. The İzmit Gulf Crossing and the Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir highway project, connecting İstanbul to İzmir, is expected to cost around $6 billion.
Included in this project are plans for the construction of the second longest bridge in the world. The bridge, to be built over the Gulf of İzmit, will be 1,700 meters long, making it the second longest bridge after the Akashi Bridge in Japan. The cost of construction of the bridge alone is expected to be around $2 billion. The government aims to have the project's Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir section completed within four years. While the entire project was predicted to be completed within seven years, the company that won the tender has promised completion within five.
A third bridge for İstanbul
The second project that the Ministry of Transportation is preparing to put out for tender is the Northern Marmara Highway Project, which will include the construction of a third bridge over the Bosporus.
This project is estimated to cost around $6 billion, with the price tag for the bridge alone expected to be $1 billion. The project will connect the Black Sea coastal road to İstanbul. Several companies in France, South Korea, Japan, China and Italy are interested in this project.
The Tekirdağ-Çanakkale-Balıkesir Highway Project, which includes the construction of a bridge over the Dardanelles Strait, is expected to be opened to bids in the first six months of 2011.
The Tekirdağ-Çanakkale-Balıkesir Highway and the Dardanelles Strait Bridge Project, which will connect the E-5 highway to the Aegean via Çanakkale, is one of the Ministry of Transportation's most valued projects. This project to divert traffic coming from Europe directly to Aegean and western Mediterranean regions is estimated to cost $5 billion. The bridge alone is expected to cost around $1.5 billion. The government believes the outcome of this project will be a reduction of traffic through İstanbul.
The Ministry of Transportation's 76 kilometer-long Marmaray project, providing an underwater link between the Asian and European districts of İstanbul, is nearing completion. Once the construction of the railway has been completed a tube tunnel for vehicles will also be opened up.
Once the $1 billion project, whose groundbreaking ceremony was officiated by Erdoğan on May 9, 2004, is finalized, people will be able to cross from Europe to Asian in two minutes.
Another project by the ministry by 2023 has the aim of connecting the Ankara-İstanbul highway to the Adana-Mersin highway. To implement this project, the ministry will first hold a tender for the Ankara-Niğde Highway Project. Major improvements of railways ARABAŞLIK
While the AK Party has big plans to complete many highway projects that began in the early 1990s, its biggest surprise relates to the country's railways.
The government aims by 2023 to double the national rail network, which was built in the early years of the republic measuring 10,940 kilometers. Currently, 8,671 kilometers are the main line, while 2,269 kilometers are side tracks and 97 percent of the total line is single track.
According to information obtained from the TCDD, the government aims to implement a 7,000-kilometer-long double-track high-speed train project by 2023; however, a large portion of the high-speed train project is expected to be completed within seven years. Also, a double-track railway project for cargo transport from the ports of Samsun and Trabzon to the port of Mersin has also been prepared.
High-speed train from Edirne to Kars
The first part of the TCDD's three-part high-speed train project includes the Ankara-İstanbul, İstanbul-Antalya and İstanbul-Edirne high-speed train projects.
The high-speed train operating between Ankara and Eskişehir will be extended to İstanbul by the end of 2011. The second stage of the project will include the İstanbul-Edirne high-speed train project. After the construction of the Ankara-Edirne line is completed, a high-speed train project connecting İstanbul to Antalya will be launched.
The İstanbul-Antalya high-speed train project will also serve to connect Ankara and Antalya. The construction of a line between Ankara and İzmir will start after the construction of the Ankara-İstanbul high-speed train line is completed. Ankara will be connected to İzmir with a new line starting from Ankara's Polatlı district and passing through Afyon and Uşak. Another high-speed train project to connect Ankara to Antalya is the Ankara-Konya high-speed train project. This project is currently under way. The government plans to extend the high-speed train from Konya to Adana and Mersin.
The high-speed train line from İstanbul to Ankara will be extended to reach Yozgat and Sivas. A substantial portion of this project has already been completed. The high-speed train line in Yozgat will be connected to the Yerköy-Kayseri line. The high-speed train line that will be extended to Sivas will be connected to Kars via Erzincan and Erzurum.
Railway project appeals to China
China has shown strong interest in the project for a high-speed train line from Edirne to Kars. With the completion of the Marmaray project, the train line from China to Spain and England will be completed. China's interest in this project stems from its aim to reach Europe via this railway line.
Once the high-speed train is connected to Erzurum, a high-speed train line to Trabzon will also be constructed with a railway line extending from Erzurum towards the north. Once the high-speed train reaches Sivas, a line to the southeastern Anatolia region will also be built. A high-speed train line to Malatya and then to Diyarbakır will then also be built. After implementing the Ankara-Adana high-speed train project, the TCDD plans to also implement a high-speed train project to connect Adana to Van.