Voanews.com – On Wednesday, Turkey launched construction of the third bridge linking its European and Asian shores, the latest in a slew of multi-billion-dollar projects that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sees as embodying Turkey’s emergence as a major power.
Erdogan, who has led a decade-long transformation of a once crisis-prone economy into Europe's fastest growing, has prioritized the building frenzy as the nation's infrastructure struggles to keep up with its growth.
“This is how we are building a powerful Turkey,” he told a crowd of several thousand people, some waving Turkish flags, who gathered at a construction site on the shores of the Bosphorus strait to the north of Europe's largest city.
“For the seven hills of Istanbul, we have seven grand projects, one is this bridge, a third necklace over the Bosphorus,” he said of the USD 3-billion project, set to be the world's widest and longest combined road and rail bridge. Ictas Insaat of Turkey and Astaldi of Italy will construct the bridge, named “Yavuz Sultan Selim”, a prominent Ottoman sultan known for expanding the Ottoman Empire’s borders eastwards during his reign.
A huge USD 80 billion is being invested in projects including a third Istanbul airport, billed to be one of the world's biggest, as well as rail and road tunnels under the Bosphorus, a high-speed train line to the capital Ankara, and a shipping canal designed to rival the Panama or Suez canals.