Turkey is becoming ever more the promised land for Italian entrepreneurs, who with Astaldi have got hold of one of the currently most highly-sought international contracts : that of the third bridge over the Bosphorus, a project worth 4.5 billion Turkish liras (2 billion euros).
Astaldi, highly active in what is currently the 16th most important world economy and aiming to become the 8th in 2023 (with a 'Chinese' growth rate of 8.5%), has been awarded the huge contract in association with the Turkish group Ictas.
The third bridge over the Bosphorus will measure 1.3 kilometres and link Asia and Europe north of Istanbul. It will have four lanes in each direction and is expected to reduce the asphyxiating traffic of the megalopolis with its 13 million inhabitants, connecting Europe with the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Far East. In the home stretch for the assigning of the work, Astaldi won out over another Italian group, Salini, which had been in the running with the Turkish Gulermak. This is yet further proof of Italian entrepreneurial dynamism in the emerging regional power of the Mediterranean. It is truly a success, in a project with a ''high level of value, not only in economic terms but also in those of media attention, crowning a period of particular intensity in relations between Italy and Turkey,'' underscored Italian ambassador to Turkey Giampaolo Scarante after the two summit meetings in early May: one between Prime Minister Monti and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in Rome and the other between entrepreneurs of both countries in Istanbul. The new bridge, which will also be for trains, is part of the North Marmara highway project, 414 km between Tekirdag on the European coast of the Bosphorus and Adapazari on the Asian one, of which 96 have been assigned to the Astaldi-Ictas consortium.
The works will begin at the end of the year and the bridge is expected to be finished in 36 months. Ecologists are strongly opposed to the works, fearing as they do that it will spark fierce speculation and destroy an important nature zone.
However, the criticism did not have any effect on the conservative Islamic government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is going ahead with it unmoved. In the immense building site which Turkey is today (with hundreds of billions of euros in investment for the coming years), the latest work will connect with the Trans European Motorway (TEM) between Turkey and Greece and with the soon-to-be-built, 421-kilometre Istanbul-Smyrna motorway - another bid (worth 6.5 billion euros) awarded to Astaldi in a consortium with Turkish partners. Istanbul's third bridge will be built further north and closer to the Black Sea than the two already existing ones over the Bosporus: the Bogazici Koprusu (Bridge over the Bosphorus), built in 1973, and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Koprusu (of Mehmet, conqueror of what was then Constantinople on 29 May 1453). And it is likely not a coincidence that Turkey, which remains strongly nationalistic, gave the go-ahead for the starting of work on the huge new project on the 559th anniversary of the conquering what was then the Eastern Roman Empire capital.(ANSAmed).