Excavation using a 13.7 m diameter Herrenknecht tunnel boring machine (TBM) has started on the Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul. The US$ 1.25 billion project will connect the European and Asian sides of the city across the Bosphorus, and will be the first tunnel between the two continents.
The TBM was launched on Saturday 19 April from the Asian side of the crossing. The launch ceremony was attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Lütfi Elvan.
Construction of the link is being carried out by the Avrasya Tüneli İşletme İnşaat ve Yatırım A.Ş. (ATAŞ) consortium, which comprises Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi and SK Engineering & Construction from South Korea. Advance rates in the region of 7 m per day are expected on the tunnel excavation.
The link will 14.6 km in total with a 5.4 km tunnel section. When complete the tunnel will have two decks and will be open to light four-wheeled vehicles. Heavy vehicles and two-wheel vehicles will still use the existing Bosphorus bridge. Completion is expected in October 2016.
The scheme is being built on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model by ATAS, under a 30 year, six month concession period, the first 55 months of which will be taken-up by construction. Financing for the scheme has come from a variety of multi-lateral institutions, including the European bank for Reconstruction and Development, (EBRD), European Investment bank (EIB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea, as well as private financial institutions.