A Korean-led consortium is the new leader in the race to build the Canakkale 1915 suspension bridge over the Dardanelles in Turkey.

With an original estimated cost of US$ 5 billion, a number of firms have offered to undertake the project for little more than half that amount.

The bid from the Korean-led consortium is US$ 2.68 billion – comparable with rival Chinese- and Japanese-led consortiums.

However, the country’s transport minister, Ahmet Arslan, said the group – comprising Daelim and SK from South Korea and Turkish contractors Limak and Yapi Merkezi – also impressed him with the short time frame in which they claim they can recoup the agreed revenue from tolls and hand the bridge back to Turkey.

As well as the 3.6 km suspension bridge over the Dardanelles Strait, the build, operate and transfer contract would cover a 352 km six-lane toll road. The Daelim-Limak-SK-Yap Merkezi OGG consortium says it can complete the entire process in a little over 16 years.

On this basis, and the comments of Mr Arslan, it is being reported that the tender from the Korean consortium is likely to be the winner. The final decision will be made in two weeks’ time.

If the bridge is built in accordance with the specifications of its designer, Istanbul-based engineer Tekfen, it will have the longest single span in the world.

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