ISTANBUL – Milliyet
Opponents are enraged by the location of the third Bosphorus bridge, saying it is bound to destroy forests, ruin water sources and make traffic even worse by creating more congestion around its entry points as residences spring up. The location of the bridge was leaked to individuals for them to partake in real estate corruption, says a political leader
The finally confirmed location for a third bridge to span the Bosphorus has been criticized by experts and officials who argue that its construction will cause serious environmental damage and is already suffering from political corruption.
The announcement by the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, Istanbul chief Gürsel Tekin of the route Tuesday was confirmed Wednesday by Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş from the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu, however, said the final route has yet to be approved.
Tekin said because the third bridge over the Bosphorus Strait would connect Tarabya on the European side and Beykoz on the Asian side forest areas along the route would be destroyed and exploited for residential and commercial purposes.
Topbaş, while confirming the general route, said it was highly likely that the cost of nationalizing certain areas and the environmental impact would alter the final route.
He said plans for the third bridge had been discussed for the past four years and that the general consensus was to build it somewhere in the Tarabya region. Topbaş said the plan would be submitted to Parliament in September, where it would be discussed and finalized. Construction of the new bridge is expected to cost around $2 billion.
Tekin said Tuesday that the site for the third bridge was leaked to individuals, and insisted that they then doled out between themselves land around the bridge would increase in value once the site was confirmed. He said there were unconfirmed claims that the individuals parceling out the land near the route were linked to the AKP.
In addition to CHP objections to the way the issue is being handled, there have been serious objections raised about the location by experts.
The Chamber of Forestry Engineers’ Istanbul branch chief, Besim Sertok, said the site announced by Tekin confirmed their fears and that the route would do considerable harm to forestlands, water resources and agricultural land on both sides of the strait. “According to the plans, the Belgrade Forest, the Alibeyköy and Ömerli basins and even agricultural land will face serious damage,” he said.
In reaction to Environment and Forestry Minister Eroğlu’s argument that a transit road built would prevent serious environmental damage to the region, Sertok said a transit road is financially and technically viable.
He said the chamber was not single-minded in its efforts to protect nature while assessing the needs of a city like Istanbul. “If the project is truly valuable, then certain sacrifices can be made,” he said. While a transit road would be a solution to the serious impact made by connecting roads, such connecting roads would eventually be built, he said.
“The Etiler connection to the second bridge was not there in the beginning. It was built later,” he said.
He argued that the third bridge was not the solution to Istanbul’s traffic problems.
No solution to traffic issue:
Istanbul Technical University, or İTÜ, Civil Engineering Faculty’s transportation expert Professor Haluk Gerçek said the third bridge itself would create extra traffic and would not relieve the pressure on the other two bridges.
“The third bridge will also be congested by traffic in a few years. This is because these bridges create their own traffic with connecting roads and then residential neighborhoods around them spring up,” he said.
He also said a third bridge built on the planned route would destroy the last forests and water reservoirs the city had.
When asked about the argument that the third bridge would ease transit traffic on the other two bridges, Gerçek said: “Transit traffic does not make up 3 percent of the city’s traffic.”
Minister says concerns will be addressed:
Once the project is approved, an environmental impact analysis of the route will be carried out, said Environment and Forestry Minister Eroğlu late Wednesday. He said there are measures available to ensure that environmental damage will be minimal.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who served as mayor for the city between 1995 and 1999, had been opposed to the construction of a third bridge.
Speaking to reporters in 1997, Erdoğan said: “Istanbul needs an underwater tunnel, not a third bridge. A third bridge will bring with it environmental destruction and uncontrolled construction.”
At the time he said the solution was an underwater railway, something that is currently being built between Kazlıçeşme on the European side and Ayrılıkçeşme on the Asian side of Istanbul. The underwater railway project, which is known as Marmaray, will eventually link Gebza to Halkalı with a 76.3-kilometer-long railway line.