The Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul, Turkey, is one of the most important waterways globally. Throughout history, it has been a point of conflict among the world’s major countries. With the growth of global trade and increased reliance on maritime transport, there is a need for a new waterway to alleviate the burden on the Bosphorus Strait, which will benefit Turkey and the world.
Due to the security and environmental risks associated with increased ship traffic through the strait, the Turkish government has begun preparations to carve a new waterway in Istanbul’s European side.
A Turkish Vision
Adil Karaismailoğlu, the Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, recently stated that they are continuing preparations for the tender to construct the Istanbul Canal. He emphasized the canal’s importance for Turkey, describing it as a project that “represents Turkey’s vision” and one of the largest projects worldwide. He also mentioned that his country recently approved the canal’s development plans, noting that the project’s architectural preparations are complete.
The preparations for the canal’s tender are ongoing, with the intention to start “very soon.” The project’s cost is estimated to be around $25 billion, and the construction will be on the city’s European side, starting from Lake Büyükçekmece on the Sea of Marmara in the south, to the Black Sea in the north.
Laying the Foundation Stone for the Istanbul Canal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that his government is close to completing the necessary preparations for the Istanbul Canal project. He explained that the canal will provide a new outlet for the region, and the foundation stone for the project is planned to be laid this summer.
Erdoğan said that the project received environmental report approval, which involved a study conducted by 56 institutions and more than 200 scientists. The study concluded with citizen participation and fieldwork.
The Turkish government intends for the project to have started and made progress by 2023, coinciding with the centenary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
The canal’s length, according to Erdoğan, is 45 km, its depth is 21 meters, and its maximum width is 275 meters. At its narrowest base, the surface width will be 360 meters.
Erdoğan stated that in 1930, 3,000 ships passed through the Bosphorus Strait annually, but the number has now exceeded 40,000. He explained that the Panama Canal sees more than 13,000 ships annually, and approximately 17,000 ships pass through the Suez Canal each year.
The Bosphorus Strait’s capacity for safe travel is only 25,000 ships annually, meaning the Bosphorus is bearing a larger burden.
Numerous Benefits of the Istanbul Canal
Protecting the environment is one of the significant benefits of the Istanbul Canal, according to previous government data. It will reduce pollution resulting from a large number of ships passing through the heart of Istanbul.
The Istanbul Canal will be earthquake-resistant, provide numerous urban transformation projects, generate significant financial resources, and create new job opportunities.
The Turkish government is also planning to transform the Bosphorus Strait into a tourist area due to its natural beauty and historical artifacts. Plans are also in place to build ports, logistics centers, and artificial islands to integrate with the canal’s route. The artificial islands will be built using the soil excavated for the canal.
All major highway and railway projects planned by the municipality for the future that will intersect the canal are taken into consideration and integrated accordingly.
It is expected that therewill be massive investments in real estate and other projects such as building residential, commercial, and industrial cities around the Istanbul Canal. The surrounding land has already become a highly sought-after commodity, with many locals waiting to sell their properties to companies looking to develop the area. In some areas adjacent to the canal, the estimated real estate prices per square meter have increased by at least 50%.
Istanbul Canal: A Scientific Study
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure data, the Istanbul Canal study involved seven of the best universities in the country, with the participation of 200 academics covering 33 different scientific branches. Measurements were taken at 97 points to protect the environment, and excavations reached 17,000 meters at 304 different points, including eight points for groundwater and 17 points for hydrological studies. The environmental report was prepared by 56 institutions, and tests were conducted in Turkish and French laboratories.
In 2019, the number of ships that crossed the Bosphorus was 41,112, 30% of which were considered dangerous cargo. The ship’s cargo is large, which has increased the weight of the cargo passing through the strait in recent years. The Bosphorus’s narrowest width is 700 meters, and there is a daily movement estimated at 2,000 trips between the strait’s two sides in local transport movement, in addition to the presence of surface and underground water currents that increase the risk of collision.
The Istanbul Canal project is a significant step towards modernizing Turkey’s infrastructure and easing the burden on the Bosphorus Strait. This ambitious project will not only improve maritime traffic but also provide numerous benefits for the environment, the economy, and the people of Turkey. The project is expected to be completed by 2027, marking a new era in Turkey’s history.