The loan contract for the Istanbul-İzmir highway project, which is Turkey's highest loan to date at $5 billion, was signed by a consortium of Deutsche Bank and the foreign branches of eight Turkish banks. Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Feridun Bilgin said all the financial needs of the project are met with the $5 billion loan agreement signed by Deutsche Bank, Akbank, Garanti Bankası, Finansbank, İş Bankası, Halkbank, Ziraat Bankası, Yapı Kredi and Vakıfbank. The 433-kilometer highway project, which will make it possible to cover the distance between Istanbul and İzmir in three-and-a-half hours, became the largest loan provided in the field of infrastructure projects in Turkey's history. Bilgin also said that the project would make an important contribution to forming one of the backbones of transportation policy adopted for the future. General manager of Ziraat Bank, Hüseyin Aydın, said that a feasible project would whet creditors' appetite. He also said that he expected foreign capitalized banks in Turkey to attend the game in other infrastructure projects in the future. Otoyol A.Ş. Chairman Oğuz Çarmıklı said that this was the largest loan used by the private sector since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. Bilgin emphasized that the aim of the project was to ease the traffic load in the Aegean and Marmara regions, which have been increasing in parallel with Turkey's growth and development in recent years, and to reduce travel time by protecting security of life and property. Bilgin said that the Istanbul-Bursa-İzmir highway project, which includes the İzmit Gulf Crossing suspension bridge, would connect Istanbul to İzmir through Yalova, Bursa, Balıkesir and Manisa.