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Korean-led consortium in pole position for Turkey’s massive bridge over the Dardanelles

A consortium of Turkish and South Korean firms has emerged as the frontrunner to build what will become one of the landmark bridges of Europe: the 3.6km suspension bridge over the Dardanelles Strait in Turkey.

Ahmet Arslan, the transport minister of Turkey, said yesterday that the group had offered to build the project in five and a half years for a price of $2.68bn, considerably less than the estimate of $5bn that had been given for it.

That price is comparable to other consortia’s bids, which include both construction and a period to collect tolls from the bridge, but the minister was impressed by the shorter time-frame in which the Korean-Turkish team promised to recoup its money and hand the bridge back to Turkey, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.

The team is make up of Daelim and SK from South Korea and two Turkish contractors, Limak and Yapi Merkezi. The work is being let on a build, operate, transfer basis, and the Daelim group would recoup its investment by operating the bridge for 16 years, including the time taken for construction.

Arslan said the bid committee would make its final decision in 15 days, after studying the bids. However he had previously said the bid with the shortest construction time would have the edge.

Also included in the scope of the contract are a 352km, six-lane toll-road. The bridge, which was designed by Istanbul-based engineer Tekfen, will bear the name of "Canakkale 1915" in honour of the Ottoman Empire’s victory in the battle of Gallipoli. It has been claimed that it will have the longest single span in the world, a record currently held by the $4.6bn Akashi-Kaikyo bridge between Kobe and Awaji Island in Japan.

According to state-owned Anadolu Agency, the other bids were as follows:

  • A team made up of IHI and Itochu of Japan and Makyol and Nurol of Turkey offered $2.72bn, with a 17 year, 10 month lease.
  • The consortium made up of China Road and Bridge Consortium and Cengiz and Kolin of Turkey bid $2.67bn with an 18 year, eight month lease.
  • Astaldi of Italia and Ictas of Turkey bid $3bn with an 18 year, five month construction and lease time.

Image: A view of Europe from the Gallipoli peninsula (Julian Nitzsche/Creative Commons)

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