Turkey has opened the world’s biggest suspension bridge in Istanbul.
The bridge is the $3 billion centrepiece of a vast series of infrastructure projects planned by President Erdogan and the country’s ruling government in a bid to boost economic growth and clear up traffic congestion across a crammed metropolis.
The third bridge to span the Bosphorus, it will carry eight lanes of traffic and two railway lines. It aims to alleviate congestion on the other two bridges, and help develop the northern parts of the city. Officials say the bridge will ease congestion in a city of 14 million people, reduce fuel costs and save workers time.
It’s called the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge in honour of the ninth Ottoman emperor, Selim I, a monarch who extended the Empire’s dominion over Egypt and the Holy Lands and earned the sobriquet Selim the Grim for his years of military campaigning and tough rule.
Erdogan’s infrastructure drive is transforming Europe’s biggest city, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait. In a little more than a decade, Istanbul’s skyline has soared, new highways have been built, and the length of the metro tripled.
The bridges over the Bosphorus have taken on greater symbolic importance since the failed coup attempt, when plotters blocked the two existing bridges, Erdogan’s supporters faced them leading to deadly clashes. One bridge was renamed ‘Martyrs of July 15 Bridge’.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan hopes this project will secure place in history: “People die, but their work remains immortal”.