A massive suspension bridge was unveiled in Turkey on March 18 that will shorten the journey between Europe and Asia to just six minutes.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated the 1915 Canakkale Bridge built across Turkey’s Dardanelles Strait that connects the European and Asian shores of the key waterway, according to reports.
Until now, vehicles traveling between Anatolia and the Gallipoli peninsula had to cross the Dardanelles in a one-hour ferry journey, which including waiting time amounted to as much as five hours. The journey will now take around six minutes.
“These works will continue to provide profit for the state for many years,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony. “These projects have a large share in putting our country ahead in investment, workforce and exports.”
Called the world’s longest suspension bridge, it is one of the major infrastructure projects that have been prioritized by Erdogan since his AK Party first came to power in 2002, including a new airport in Istanbul, rail and road tunnels beneath the Bosphorus Strait, and a bridge over it.
The 4,608-meter bridge was built by the South Korean contractors SK Ecoplant and DL E&C, in conjunction with Turkish contractors Yapi Merkezi and Limak. At its peak, some 200 South Korean staff, including those from subcontractors, worked on the bridge at Canakkale.
It is said to have the longest main span — the distance between the two towers — of any suspension bridge in the world. Reports suggest that it is the sixth tallest bridge in the world, surpassing the Sutong Bridge in China and the Stonecutters Bridge in Hong Kong.
The bridge is named after the Battle of Çanakkale during World War I. It was one of Turkey’s most important victories, as the Ottoman Empire successfully fended off an attempt by the allied forces of Great Britain and France to take control of the Turkish Straits. The bridge has been painted in red and white to represent the Turkish flag.
According to Adil Karaismailoglu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, the number 1915 in the name of the bridge and the height of the bridge at 318 meters symbolize the Canakkale Naval Victory on March 18, 1915.
Even the 2,023 m (1.25 mile) length of its midspan is an allusion to the Turkish Republic’s 100th anniversary in 2023.
The bridge connects with a system of highways ringed around the Marmara Sea, home to nearly one-third of Türkiye’s population and a region that hosts major industrial and commercial hubs.
“The Project will integrate the seaports, railways and airways in the Marmara and Aegean regions with highway transportation systems which will facilitate the economic development and balanced planning and structuring required by the industries in these regions,” said Mustafa Tanrıverdi, CEO of the 1915 Canakkale Bridge project.
According to Tanrıverdi, the bridge and its joining motorway infrastructure will place Turkey at the junction of the Modern Silk Road which stretches from China to England.
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“Turkey is going to serve as a base for a signiﬁcant amount of merchandise trade ﬂow, via logistic centers that are still in the making. The project will be an important point of passage for this merchandise ﬂow, ultimately serving to boost the commercial mobility between Europe and Asia,” said Tanrıverdi.
China’s Single-Tower Bridge
Meanwhile, China has also constructed one of the record-breaking suspension bridges known as the Lvzhijiang Bridge, stretching 798 meters over the Lvzhijiang river valley.
It protrudes from tunnels that emerge from steep mountain faces on each side of the valley. Officials claim that it breaks several world records.
Built in a mountainous V-shaped valley, it is only held up by one tower and is supported on both ends by cables, making it the world’s first single-tower, single-span suspension bridge. There are no additional columns, giving it a dramatic, gravity-defying look.
In addition, officials say it has the world’s steepest tunnel anchorage, which is angled at 54 degrees.
The bridge connects neighboring Yuxi City and Yunnan’s Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture and the maximum speed limit on the bridge is 100 kilometers per hour which according to official claims will dramatically shorten the journey time.
The Lvzhijiang Bridge is a part of the 190-kilometer-long Yuchu Expressway and the 9,000-kilometer Yunnan Highway network that is built to give an economic push to the mostly agricultural region of Yunan.
Yunnan is a border province in southwest China that holds an important place in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Chinese government, as it is regarded as the gateway to connect with South Asia and Southeast Asia.