Turkish Tunnel Opens First Undersea Link Between Two Continents

Once a dream of a Turkish sultan, the Euro-Asian link became a reality on Tuesday

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STR / AFP / Getty Images

Employees work in the Marmaray Tunnel under the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul on April 18, 2013

Some 153 years ago, Turkey’s Sultan Abdul Mejid envisioned an undersea tunnel that would span the Bosporus Strait and link Europe to Asia. It was a bit far-fetched for the time, but today it will become a reality when Turkey opens the first undersea link between two continents.

More important for Turkish commuters, it could relieve traffic from two heavily congested bridges. The 1.4-km undersea railway promises to zip passengers across the strait in as little as four minutes.

The Japan Times reports that the Sultan’s fantasy project was revived in 2004 by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared, “It fell to us to realize it.” The project ran into frequent delays from archaeological discoveries that unearthed roughly 40,000 artifacts and a graveyard of some 30 Byzantine ships. Critics of the Prime Minister have dismissed the $3 billion dig as a “pharaonic” waste.

[Japan Times]