By Selcuk Kilic and Tugba Yardimci
Mt. Ovit Tunnel has been inaugurated on Wednesday in northern eastern Turkish province of Rize.
The tunnel was inaugurated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag, Youth and Sports Minister Osman Askin Bak, along with the officials pertinent.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Erdogan emphasized the strategic importance of the tunnel.
“Ovit Tunnel is not an ordinary tunnel. It bears a strategic importance in that it is located on Caucasus corridor which opens into Europe and Middle Asia,” Erdogan said.
The president also said the tunnel would contribute to the regional trade.
“There will be a noticeable rise in the regional trade since the transportation to the ports at the Black Sea will be eased,” Erdogan said.
The 14.3 (8.8 miles) kilometer long tunnel connects the Ikizdere district of the northeastern Rize province and the Ispir district of the eastern province of Erzurum.
The tunnel's lowest point is located at 1,919 meters of altitude and its highest at the other end at an altitude of 2,236 meters.
The tunnel will shorten the 250-kilometer-long Rize-Erzurum highway to 200 and will allow residents of the eastern Turkish provinces to reach the Black Sea faster.