Expectations are growing that Turkey’s planned 400m-wide canal between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean will go ahead following the Transport Ministry’s decision on a route and its arrival at a preliminary cost estimate of 60bn lira, or around $15.5bn.
The 45km route will start from the Kucukcekmece Lake in the southern part of the European side of the city. It will pass through the districts of Avcilar and Basaksehir before reaching the Black Sea in the Arnavutkoy district northwest of the city.
In September, President Erdogan said he hoped work would begin before the end of 2017 or early in 2018. Speaking at a Turkey-Serbia Business Forum in Belgrade, he said: "Opening a new canal parallel to the Bosphorus, which we call ‘Kanal Istanbul’, is my dream. God willing, we will break ground probably at the end of this year or in early 2018."
The Turkish government announced that the project will be pushed forward as a private investment project on a build, operate and transfer basis (BOT). Construction is expected to last around five years.
The scheme has attracted the attention of Korea’s builders, who earlier this year won a $5bn project to build a 3.6km suspension bridge over the Dardanelles Strait. On 6 December, Korean president Moon Jae-in discussed the project with Binali Yildirim, the prime minister of Turkey.
Kanal Istanbul is expected to have a design capacity of 160 vessels a day.
Image: The canal would relieve congestion in the Bosphorus (Creative Commons)