Posted by wilfrid duval on 11/28/2013
Lack of mass transit assets, car as main choice in commuting ending with unbearable traffic jam, the metropolitan mobility has become a priority in Istanbul’s planning programs.
The “Marmaray” project, rail mass transit linking asian and european banks, was launched by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in may 2004.
In order to make that « crazy project » possible, engineers had to build a 8 miles (13,6 km) long tunnel running under the Bosphorus strait and resisting to seismic threats of the area.
While digging, workers came across lot of and valued archaeological finds, postponing the tunnel construction work.
October 2013 the 29th, the same Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, opened, for the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the launching of the « Marmaray ».
A whole modernization program of stations and railways came with the tunnel construction, expanding the network up to 47 miles (76,3 km).
At full blast, the capacity for the suburban lines will reach 75,000 passengers per hour in each direction (source wikipedia). It will be possible to go from one to the other continent in 18 minutes.
Hoping that impressive infrastructure will bring to the two millions commuters (source : aujourdhuilaturquie.com), crossing everyday the Bosphorus, an efficient and safe solution to their needs of mobility.
I remain cautious because, as I could often read and notice in the past (in reference to my article Los Angeles, heading to a green growth leadership), the implementation of transit infrastructures doesn’t guarantee radical changes of inhabitant uses. Other factors as the pricing system or the comfort level must be taken into account.
The car as main mean of transport is definitely not a substainable solution to commute. However it’s still the most used in Turkey.
13,4 million of cars have been counted up in the country (source : leconomiste.com) of which 26% only for Istanbul (source : espacetemps.net). National Growth driver and source of employment, the car industry is fully supported by the State.
More and more malls, entirely devoted to cars, see the day of light in the megalopolis encouraging consumption. The car remains in consumer mind a symbol of social success.
Since 1988, two bridges have been linking both asian and european banks. Nowadays, they appear not to be enough to fit with Istanbul’s traffic.
In keeping with the series of planning programs for the turkish metropolis, in april 2010 the 29th ,the Minister of Transport announced the construction of the third bridge of Istanbul in the north nearby the Black Sea. 0,8 mile long (1275 meters), it will be connected with a 161 miles long highway (260 km) built to relieve the traffic congestion on.
Driven by an italo-turkish consortium, the bridge and highway works construction started in may 2013 the 29th. They were estimated at 6 billion dollars. The project should be delivered by 2016.
Many people disagree with that planning program.
It has been proved that new highway construction has been barely helpful to improve traffic flow. On the contrary, it could make traffic bigger coming as a new solution for drivers.
Large forests and water resources, vital for the inhabitants of the metropolis, are located north of Istanbul. Now accessible, those areas, might be targeted by developpers for massive urbanisation (housing, industry and trade) and land speculation.
Whereas world metropolis aim at slowing down urban sprawl in order to make easier their organisation, Istanbul seems not to be following the same trend. Çare Olgun Çalışkan, from the chamber of the urban planners, would like to stop the north urban expansion, developp the metropolis on an East-West line and more public investments in rail and shipping transport.
Those two planning programs show how complex it is to structure our urban areas.
Marmaray project, the third bridge, not forgetting Kanal istanbul or the third airport, are firstofall planning tools use to equip the megalopolis with efficient infrastructures in order to make it atractive. Nevertheless, they reveal how hard turkish State works on establishing Istanbul as a world city.