The largest section of the Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir Highway Project, and the world's fourth longest suspension bridge with the largest central span, the Osman Gazi Bridge, was opened to traffic on Thursday with a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
In the inauguration ceremony, President Erdoğan announced the good news, saying that the bridge will be free to use until the end of Eid al-Fitr.
Completed within a 39-month period, the Osman Gazi Bridge aims to decrease the over concentration of industrial operations in Kocaeli's Gebze and Dilovası districts. "Travel time between Istanbul and Izmir will decrease to three-and-a-half hours [from nine hours]," Erdoğan said, adding that the entire motorway project is scheduled to be finalized in 2018. The president made these statements while speaking at the ceremony when the last bridge deck for the Osman Gazi Bridge was installed in late April.
During the same ceremony President Erdoğan declared that the new bridge, which connects both sides of the İzmit Bay in northwestern Turkey, will be named after the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman Gazi. Therefore, the bridge has two names, with the other name being İzmit Bay Bridge.
"It will be among the first completed ones of Turkey's 2023 [vision] projects," Erdoğan added.
The entire project's worth is estimated at $9 billion.
Numerous other mega projects, such as Istanbul's third airport, are expected to contribute to the country's 2023 vision, a set of goals to be reached by Turkey for its centennial celebrations.
Moreover, according to the World Bank's Private Participation in Infrastructure Database (PPI Project Database) published in June, Turkey's seven infrastructure projects, which amount to $44.7 billion, made up 40 percent of global investments in 2015. In this respect, the Gebze-İzmir Motorway investment of $6.4 billion along with Istanbul's IGA Airport at $35.6 billion significantly contributed to Turkey's success.
Previously, while speaking about the mega project, Dilovası District Governor Harun Şahin said the bridge was among Turkey's giant projects and worldwide projects as well, and they would host a bridge that would go down in world history. Stressing the bridge's positive effects on the region, Şahin pointed out that housing and land prices had increased in Dilovası, which has the best view of the bridge.
Şahin said a great number of people would come into the region, and new shopping malls were being built next to the bridge with a capacity to employ about 1,000 personnel, and this would provide employment to the region's neighborhoods. Saying that there were five industrial zones in Dilovası, and 20 in the area including Tuzla and Gebze, Şahin noted that Gebze and Dilovası were industrially saturated, and industrial zone prices were too high in those regions, causing industrialists to have serious problems.
"With this bridge, richness and opportunities will flow to the other side. We hear about the establishment of new industrial zones. This will also reduce some of the industrial pressure in our region and will increase living standards."
The 433-kilometer-long motorway in the project is expected to provide a direct connection from Istanbul and its surrounding provinces to the third and fourth largest cities in Turkey, Izmir and Bursa respectively. The motorway crosses through the bridge in the İzmit province, southeast of Istanbul.
The project began with an interchange (2x5 lanes) that was built 2.5 kilometers after the Gebze Interchange on the Anadolu Highway, and ending at the Otogar Intersection on the İzmir Highway. The bridge reached a height of 252 meters and the bridge deck is 25.93 meters long, with a main span length of 1,550 meters. Totaling 2,682 meters, the İzmit Bay Bridge has the fourth largest main span in the world. The installment of the bridge was completed at the end of April and the bridge is now opened to traffic today, following isolation and asphalt application.