Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge opened on Friday with a grand ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and vehicles started to pass over the bridge later on the same day. Even though the official hour for transit by vehicles was set at 12:00 a.m., by public request, cars started using the bridge a couple of hours earlier than the scheduled time. After it got dark, the third bridge to link Asia and Europe was adorned with lights in the color of the Turkish flag; thus, it was a visual feast for the surrounding area.
Ankara has guaranteed operators that 135,000 automobiles will use the bridge each day. The fee for automobiles crossing over from the European side to the Asian side will be TL 9.90 ($3.40); however, the bridge is free until Aug. 31. There will be no charge for passage from the Asian to the European side.
All trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be directed to the bridge to ease traffic on the other bridges, as well as cut congestion and pollution in Istanbul.
Named after 16th century Ottoman Sultan Selim I, whose rule marked the expansion of the empire's burgeoning world power in the Middle East, the bridge accompanies the July 15 Marytrs' Bridge -- previously the Bosphorus Bridge -- and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in crossing the Bosphorus.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge cost nearly $3 billion and is a critical section of the Northern Marmara Highway. While last preparations for the opening of the bridge were being made this month, in an interview, Yıldırım said: "It is sometimes called the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and access road. It is better to call it the Northern Highway. Istanbul's Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is connected to the TEM highway, while the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge is connected to E-5. The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, on the other hand, constitutes Istanbul's outmost highway by going across the northernmost part of the Bosporus." He added that a vehicle entering from Kınalı on the European Side could arrive after passing Sultanbeyli Kurtköy on the Anatolian Side and later continue on to Bursa and İzmir or İzmit via the Osman Gazi Bridge.
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was completed within a record-breaking 27 month time frame, nine months ahead of schedule, according to Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan, speaking to journalists this month. The project is first of its kind completed in such a time frame and could break a world record, according to Arslan.
More than 6,500 workers and engineers worked diligently on the construction of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. The total length of the bridge is 2,164 meters. The bridge, which stretches 1,408 meters over the Bosporus, has eight lanes of highway and two lanes of railway. It is the longest suspension bridge in the world that includes a rail system. The height of the tower in the village of Garipçe on the European side is 322 meters and the tower in the Poyrazköy district on the Asian side is 318 meters high. The bridge has the highest abutments in the world.