|Start point||Black Sea|
|End point||Sea of Marmara|
|Length||30 miles (48 km)|
|Status||First proposed in the 16th century; pre-feasibility studies commenced April 2009, announced April 2011, feasibility studies conducted April 2012, first stage of construction started April 2013|
Kanal İstanbul is the Turkish project name of the artificial sea-level waterway, which is proposed to be built by the Republic of Turkey on the European side of Turkey, connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and hence to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Kanal İstanbul would bisect the current European side of Istanbul and thus form an island between the continents of Asia and Europe (the island would have a shoreline with the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, the new canal and the Bosphorus). The new waterway would bypass the current Bosphorus. Kanal İstanbul aims to minimise shipping traffic in the Istanbul Strait. The project is intended for the 100th anniversary in 2023 of the foundation of the Turkish Republic.
The main purpose of the project is to reduce the marine traffic through the Bosphorus and minimize the risks and dangers associated particularly with tankers. About 56,000 vessels pass yearly through the Istanbul Strait, among them 10,000 tankers carrying 145 million tons of crude oil. International pressure is growing to increase the marine traffic tonnage through the Turkish straits that brings risks for the security of marine navigation during the passage. The canal will further help prevent the pollution caused by cargo vessels passing through or mooring in the Sea of Marmara Sea before the southern entrance of the Bosphorus.
The waterway will have a length of 45–50 km (28–31 mi) with a depth of 25 m (82 ft). Its width will be 150 m (490 ft) on the surface and 120 m (390 ft) at the canal bed. These dimensions will allow the largest vessels and even submarines to pass.
The concept of a canal linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara has been proposed at least seven times in history.
The first proposal was made by Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520–1568). His architect Mimar Sinan was said to have devised plans for the project. The project was abandoned for unknown reasons.
In 1654 during the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV, pressure for the recommencement of the canal was applied but to no avail.
Sultan Mustafa III (reigned 1757–1774) tried twice in 1760 but the project could not go ahead due to economic problems.
During the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, an Imperial Ottoman Committee was established to examine the project once again. A report was prepared in 1813 but no concrete steps were taken.
It was not until April 2009, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government started discreet studies on the project and concrete steps were taken for the revival of the project. The project was mentioned by Minister of Transport Binali Yıldırım in May 2009 at the parliament. Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Kanal İstanbul project on April 27, 2011 during a rally held in connection with the upcoming 2011 general elections, calling it as his Wild Project (Turkish: Çılgın Proje).
Studies relating to the project were completed within two years. The canal will be in service latest in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic. The project will be financed completely by domestic sources.
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality officials have stated that Kanal İstanbul will cost $10 billion to build and that financing for the development has already been allocated by the Turkish Treasury. They further added that they would be relying entirely on national resources. It is envisaged that Turkish Armed Forces personnel would play a key role in the Canal's development.
Commencement of works
On the 22nd of January 2013, the Turkish Government announced that construction of the canal would commence in May 2013. In April 2013 the first stage of the Kanal İstanbul project which includes the construction of various network bridges and highways commenced.
Some critics have stated that Turkey aims to by-pass the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits and attain greater autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. STRATFOR characterized the announced $10 billion USD construction budget and initial operating date of 2023 as being "not realistic for a project of this magnitude."
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