“With this huge project, we are proclaiming the reality of Turkey’s strength, Turkey’s greatness from Canakkale to the world,” said Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during the groundbreaking ceremony in northwestern Canakkale’s Lapseki district, kicking off the construction phase of the record-breaking bridge.
The Canakkale 1915 Bridge -- named in honor of the country’s historic victory in the region during World War I -- will span over 2,000 meters between Lapseki and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in northwestern Turkey.
It is expected to open in 2023, when the country marks the centennial of the Republic of Turkey.
The 1915 battle took place in the Canakkale (Dardanelles) Strait on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus and Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan were also in attendance, as well as Ho-In Kang, South Korea’s minister of land, infrastructure and transport, whose country is taking part in building and running the bridge.
Yildirim hailed the bridge as connecting “the past to the future”.
He added, “Today we are making history. You will tell your grandchildren, ‘I was there on that day’.”
The bridge is expected to be built at a cost of around 10.35 billion Turkish liras ($2.80 billion).
It will be 32 meters longer than the world’s longest bridge -- the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge between Kobe and Awaji Island in Japan.
On Jan. 26, a consortium of South Korean companies -- Daelim, SK E&C, and Limak -- and Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi OGG won a tender and a 192-month lease for the historic bridge.
The consortium outbid rivals from Japan’s IHI, China’s CRBC, and Turkey’s Cengiz and Kolin.
The crossing will be built about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of the country's economic heart Istanbul.