Constructed at an altitude of 2,640 meters on Mount Ovit in Rize's İkizdere district, the Ovit Tunnel, Turkey's longest and the world's second-longest twin tube road tunnel stretching 14,300 meters in length, will open today.
The opening ceremony will be attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The project will facilitate freight transportation and boost connectivity mechanisms between the region and neighboring countries, as well as major ports.
Plans for the Ovit Tunnel, which was brought to the agenda as the Rize-Erzurum Highway and Tunnel Project in the development plans of the Ottoman State in 1880, were laid out on May 13, 2012 under then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's leadership. A ceremony titled the "Light at the End of the Tunnel" was held on Nov. 11, 2016 with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in attendance.
The tunnel will connect İspir in northeastern Turkey's Erzurum to İkizdere in the Black Sea province of Rize.
The Ovit Tunnel will serve as the fourth-longest tunnel in the world and second longest in Turkey with a total length of 14,300 meters, including 369 meters of "avalanche tunnel," second only to the 14,500-meter New Zigana Tunnel currently under construction on the Trabzon-Gümüşhane highway.
Moreover, the tunnel will ease transportation between the Baku-Tiflis-Kars Railway. The highway tunnel is also expected to reinvigorate the historic Silk Road. When connected to other road projects, the tunnel will help provide an uninterrupted link between the Silk Road and the Ural Mountains, connecting Turkey to northern China and constituting an important part of the middle corridor on the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to revive the ancient Silk Road.