Turkey's parliament speaker said Friday a landmark bridge project on Canakkale Strait will be completed a year earlier than planned.
"The completion of the project was first slated for 2023, which marks the centenary of the Turkish Republic, but with hard work it is ready to be completed on March 18, 2022," Binali Yildirim said at a ceremony on floating caisson foundations of the Canakkale 1915 Bridge.
“One of them weighs 54 tons and the other 50 tons. Their height is 20 meters (over 65 feet) and they are the size of a football ground,” Yildirim added.
He also said once the bridge is completed weather conditions would not affect the travel.
"When the bridge is completed, Thrace, the most important center of service, industry and tourism of our country, and the economic and social life in the West Anatolian Region will become much more attractive," he said.
“The bridge costs around 20 billion [Turkish] lira [approx. $4 billion],” he said, noting that it was more than many countries’ annual revenue.
He added the length of the bridge was going to be 5 kilometers (over 3 miles) and the bridge has the longest distance between two columns.
“This is a first, and firsts suit us, suit Turkey,” Yildirim said.
He said the bridge would reduce the time to pass the Canakkale Strait from one hour to four minutes.
“This is not a just bridge, it is a huge, technological masterpiece,” he said.
The Canakkale 1915 Bridge -- named in memory of the country’s historic victory in the region during WWI -- will span over 2,000 meters between Lapseki and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in northwestern Turkey.
It will be 32 meters longer than the world’s longest bridge -- the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge between Kobe and Awaji Island in Japan.
By Burak Akay