Ömer Aymalı- World Bulletin / News Desk
The Marmaray Project connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul via a subway tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait has a 150-year-old story.
Firstly, the dream of connecting the two sides of the Bosporus was thought of by Leonardo da Vinci, six centuries ago. Da Vinci had presented his project to Sultan Bayezid II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1512. The project also included two separate bridges on the Halic River and across the Bosporus. Due to a few shortcomings, the project was not carried out. However, one of Da Vinci's projects, the Halic Bridge, was revived a few centuries later.
The idea of the subway tunnel underneath the Bosphorus Strait was first introduced by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmajid in 1860. This project failed because of his death. It was to be named as Tunel-i Bahri.
The first serious bid for a tunnel was presented by engineer Euqene Henri Gavand to Sultan Abdulhamid. Gaand's project aimed to connect the Uskudar and Sarayburnu districts together. However, the Ottoman-Russian war prevented the project from getting underway. The second plan for the Sarayburnu-Uskudar line was prepared by S. Preaul in 1891.
In the early 1900s, Germans prepared another Bosporus bridge project. They wanted to connect the Bosporus sides. The bridge was planned to run between Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari. Its name was to be Jisr-i Hamidi.
Another tunnel project, also named Tunel-i Bahri, was designed by three American engineers. The project aimedto build two lines.
During the era of Abdulhamid II, the Sarayburnu-Uskudar bridge project became the main topic. The bridge was to have five pillars according to F.Arnodi's blueprints, and was set to connect Vienna to Medina had it been realized.
Marmaray project was launched by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an event on May 9, 2004. The project encompasses 13.6 kilometers of tubing - 1.4 kilometers of which is underwater.
The 37-station line will provide travel between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul in just two minutes and will have connectivity to allow seamless transfers to other forms of transportation throughout the city, including lines that connect to the city's two airports.
The Marmaray line connects the Sirkeci and Haydarpasa commuter train lines with an undersea tube tunnel beneath the Bosporus Strait. The line consists of three underground stations in Istanbul's Yenikapi, Sirkeci and Uskudar districts, as well as 37 above-ground stations. Many of these above-ground stations are rebuilt or refurbished stations from the old suburban train line. The Ayrilikcesme station will serve as a transfer station for the Kadikoy-Kartal subway line.