Contracts have been signed for the construction and operation of a highway from Gebze to Izmir in Turkey, with a consortium of six companies carrying out the project.

The 421 km highway is expected to more than halve the travel time between Istanbul and Izmir - Turkey's third largest city, which is situated on the Aegean coast.

The build-operate-transfer project will be carried out by five Turkish contractors - Nurol, Özaltin, Makyol, Yüksel and Göçay, plus Italian-based Astaldi. The investment, according to Astaldi, of € 4,8 billion will see a guaranteed return of € 16,8 billion of concession revenue over 22 years and four months, including construction time.

The project includes the construction of a bridge across Izmit Bay close to Gebze, which is about 50 km from Istanbul.

Work will start during 2011, and is expected to take seven years to complete.

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