The last bridge deck for the İzmit Bay Bridge, which has become the fourth longest suspension bridge with the largest central span in the world, was installed Thursday in a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım and Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Erdoğan declared that the new bridge which connects both sides of the Izmit Bay in northwestern Turkey will be named after the founder of the Ottoman Empire (a dynasty at the time), Osman Gazi.
The construction of the bridge started in 2013 and it is expected to be opened at the end of May 2016.
The 433-kilometer-long motorway 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 "Osman Gazi" bridge in the Izmit province, southeast of Istanbul.
"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.
"It will be among the first completed ones of Turkey's 2023 [vision] projects," Erdoğan noted.
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.
The Osman Gazi bridge is the biggest part of the Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir Highway Project which will shorten the distance between Istanbul and İzmir by roughly 140 kilometers, bypassing the long-stretching Gulf of İzmit. Constructed under the "build-operate-transfer model," the Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir Highway (including the İzmit Bay Bridge) will be 433 kilometers long and will include 384 kilometers of highway and 49 kilometers of access road.
The project begins with an interchange (2x5 lanes) that will be built 2.5 kilometers after the Gebze Interchange on the Anadolu Highway, and ending at the Otogar Intersection on the İzmir Highway. The bridge will reach a height of 252 meters and the bridge deck will be 25.93 meters long, with a main span length of 1,550 meters. Totaling 2,682 meters, the İzmit Bay Bridge will have the fourth largest main span in the world. Ninety-nine percent of the north and south anchorage blocks of the bridge are complete. The installment of the bridge is planned to be completed at the end of April and the bridge is expected to be opened to traffic at the end of May, following isolation and asphalt application.