Underwater tunnel linking Asia, Europe opens
An underwater sea road has been newly opened to connect the Asian and European continents.
SK Engineering & Construction (SK E&C) announced on Dec. 20 that it had successfully opened an underwater tunnel that runs under the Bosphorus Strait which divides the Turkish capital city Istanbul into Asian and European sides.
The newly-built Eurasia Tunnel which measures 5.4 kilometers-long, is the first car-only, double-story, underwater tunnel of its kind on a 14.6 kilometer-long route. The firm used a huge tunnel-boring machine (TBM) which measures 13.7 meters in diameter, 120-meters in length and weighs 3,400 tons.
The two firms, SK E&C and Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, began excavating in 2008 when they received the order. They worked over a span of two years to complete the construction, progressing seven meters every day by digging up to 25 tons of earth and sand despite the pressure being 11-times higher than that of air as they worked as deep as 110-meters underwater.
President Erdogan said at the opening ceremony on Dec. 20 in Istanbul that, "The Eurasia Tunnel will bring various benefits for the citizens of Istanbul in areas of the economy, culture, society and environment by providing a quality transportation service."
"It will also contribute to advancing the international status of Turkey as one of the well-known tourism centers in the world," he added.
The ceremony was attended by government representatives from both Turkey and Korea, including Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Korean ambassador to Turkey Cho Yoon-su, and representatives from Korean and Turkish construction firms, including SK E&C CEO Choi Casey.
SK E&C predicted that the newly opened tunnel will significantly shorten the transportation time across the Bosphorus Strait from 100 minutes to 15 minutes. The firm also said that on average, about 120,000 cars are predicted to use the tunnel every day. The company is also in charge of overall maintenance, repair and management, as well as the facilities after the completion of the construction by 2041.