With one half in Asia and the other in Europe, the cultural hub of Turkey has long depended on two bridges to link the city over the Bosphorus Straits (above). But a proposed third one has raised the ire of environmentalists who say it will damage the city’s forests and water resources, reports the English-language Turkish paper Today’s Zaman.
Supporters of the new bridge say it will make Turkey an important transportation corridor. They point to other highways that have crossed the three largest water reservoirs of Istanbul as evidence that mega infrastructure projects can be built safely. Cahit Turan, general director of public highways in Ankara, told Zaman:
“The important part of the project is preventing the construction on the direction of the third bridge. To discourage new buildings around the route, there will be a few necessary connection points from the main road to the city and these connections will not be throughout the forests but to already populated areas like Ümraniye and Beykoz.”
Turkey has made GP headlines recently for good and bad green news. On the one hand, the World Bank is funding an alternative energy scheme across the country, and farmers are cutting dangerous pesticides out of their crop schedule. On the other, Ankara just announced plans to dam a pristine biosphere for energy production.
Opponents to the third bridge don’t trust the government to prevent suburban villa neighborhoods from cropping up in the forests on the Asian side of Istanbul, which will be especially attractive once a bridge links them to the center of town. Ankara urban planner Tarık Şengül said there are other ways of improving Istanbul’s traffic, and that no scientists were consulted about the ecological footprint of the project. As he told Zaman:
“We’ve already seen the same story unfold for the first and second bridges. All of the areas around the routes of the bridges were opened to construction, which resulted in the destruction of forests along the Bosphorus.”
But the Environmental Ministry has said the bridge will not damage the forests.
Istanbul’s first two bridges were completed in 1973 and 1988.
:: (Photo from Zaman)