The route for a canal to reduce shipping traffic on Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait and transform the European half of Istanbul into an island has been announced.
Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said work on the 45-kilometre Kanal Istanbul, which will link the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara west of the Bosphorus, would begin this year.
To run from the Durusu region on the Black Sea coast to Kucukcekmece Lake on the Sea of Marmara, the canal will be 25 metres deep and between 250 metres and 1,000 metres wide, depending on where the docks are located.
Transport and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said the Bosphorus was one of the world’s busiest waterways with 42,000 vessels passing through in 2016. In comparison, 16,800 transited the Suez Canal.
To be funded through public and private partnerships, the canal would not be subject to the Montreux conventions that guarantees free passage to civilian vessels during peacetime – meaning Turkey could charge vessels using it.
The new canal is expected to have capacity for 160 vessels a day and is scheduled for completion by 2023.
Local media reports said the final route for the TRY60 billion (US$15.6 billion) investment was selected after studies on five alternative routes. They said three artificial islands off Istanbul would be built with the billions of cubic metres of excavated material during construction of the canal.
A container port would also be built at the Black Sea end.