President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan carried out the first ever vehicle crossing through the Eurasia Tunnel, which connects the Asian and European sides of Istanbul via a highway tunnel going underneath the seabed. Accompanied by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, the President conducted a test passage from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side by his own official car that he himself drove.\r\n\r\nFollowing the test drive in the tunnel, whose asphalt work has already been completed and which is set to come into service on December 20, President Erdoğan was briefed by the officials on the tunnel project, which is at its final phase.\r\n\r\nPresident Erdoğan thereafter addressed a press conference about the tunnel project. Also present at the conference were Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ahmet Arslan, Governor of Istanbul Vasip Şahin, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Kadir Topbaş and officials from the contractor companies of the project.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHISTORIC STEPS IN TRANSPORT\r\n\r\nUnderlining that historic steps have been taken in the field of transport over the past 14 years, President Erdoğan noted that they achieved what had been called ‘impossible’ and would continue their strenuous work in order to live up to the expectations of the nation.\r\n\r\nStating that the Marmaray rail tunnel underneath the Bosphorus strait will enable the crossing between the two sides of Istanbul by rail and the Eurasia Tunnel by road vehicle, President Erdoğan said that the Eurasia Tunnel, constructed in cooperation by Turkish and Korean companies, will be operated for 26 years from its inauguration by its constructor companies, which will thereafter transfer the management of the tunnel to the state in line with the build-operate-transfer system.\r\n\r\nTENDER FOR KANAL ISTANBUL TO BE HELD SOON\r\n\r\nAlso referring to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the widest suspension bridge of the world, and the Osman Gazi Bridge as sources of pride for Turkey, President Erdoğan said: “We didn’t content ourselves with this. Now the Eurasian Tunnel is forming another step of this process. These are important steps for us. As you know, we will open the first section of the third airport in early 2018. We will thereby have inaugurated the 90 million-passenger-capacity section of the airport. Once the construction of the airport is fully completed, it will have a capacity of 150 million passengers, which might be further increased to 200 million. The construction work is going on rapidly. 40 percent of the rough construction has been completed. Another step is the Kanal Istanbul Project. God willing, the tender for the Kanal Istanbul will be held very soon. It is very important in that it will connect the Black Sea to the Marmaray.”\r\n\r\n“YOU ARE GIVING THE BEST ANSWER TO THOSE TRYING TO HARM THE YENIKAPI SPIRIT”\r\n\r\nPresident Erdoğan stressed that these projects manifest the great progress Turkey has made, adding that they are walking resolutely towards 2023 vision hand in hand with the people, who the President said “are giving and will continue to give the best answer to those trying to harm the Yenikapı spirit,” formed following the heinous July 15 coup attempt.\r\n\r\nRecalling that the inauguration of the Eurasia Tunnel will take place on December 20 with the participation of the people, President Erdoğan concluded his remarks by thanking Prime Minister Yıldırım and Transport Minister Arslan as well as architects, engineers and workers that took part in the construction work of the tunnel for their efforts.