Istanbul: A major $1.3-billion tunnel linking Istanbul’s European and Asian sides opened Tuesday in a colorful ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Anadolu Agency reported.
"I wish the Eurasia Tunnel, which links the continents, to be auspicious for Istanbul and Turkey,” Yildirim said, adding that the Eurasia Tunnel was one of the country’s biggest projects.
“Mehmet the Conqueror, when he conquered Istanbul, moved ships overland and now his descendants, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his friends, are moving trains and automobiles under the sea,” Yildirim added.
Commenting on the assassination of Moscow’s ambassador in Ankara Andrey Karlov on Monday evening, Turkey’s premier said: “Terror has once again shown its vile face. No doubt, this incident was an abject provocation against Turkey-Russia relations.”
“Turkish-Russian relations will continue to develop; they will never be able to defeat it,” Yildirim added.
The first road tunnel under the Bosphorus in Turkey's biggest city will significantly reduce travel time between Istanbul's Asian and European sides.
Construction of the two-story undersea tunnel took over four years. The total length of the project is 14.6 kilometers and the most crucial part, the Bosphorus crossing, is 5.4km long.
Turkey’s transport ministry said that the road toll -- excluding tax -- for automobiles and minibusses would be $4 and $6 respectively.
According to officials, the Eurasia Tunnel is expected to provide a solution to Istanbul's traffic problems by decreasing travel times on the route from around 100 minutes to 15 minutes.
The tunnel has also been designed so as to be resilient to earthquakes and tsunamis, and can be used as a bunker if necessary.