İstanbul’s silhouette to change as metro line comes into view

İstanbul’s silhouette to change as metro line comes into view

The silhouette of İstanbul’s Golden Horn is being redrawn as rapid work continues to finish the Haliç metro bridge. (PHOTO SUNDAY’S ZAMAN, SELAHATTİN SEVİ)

November 18, 2012, Sunday/ 14:52:00

İstanbul has faced and finally conquered a wide range of problems, from transportation to the environment, housing to public roads. With a population that now surpasses 13 million - - thus leaving a full 21 European countries far behind it - - İstanbul boasts many beautiful views, some of the most striking being those of its historical peninsula.

Step back and take a look, from Sarayburnu to the district of Eyüp - - no one remains untouched facing these vistas. As for the moments when the sun sets in a brilliant flame of color where the Golden Horn meets the Bosporus, these are almost indescribably beautiful.

These days though, the silhouette of İstanbul’s Golden Horn is being re-drawn, as rapid work continues to finish the Haliç metro bridge, one of the most important nexus points of the İstanbul metro system. While the legs of the bridge have already been completed, the actual top part itself is now being worked on. At the same time, work is occurring on the Unkapanı and Azapkapı viaducts. One of the results of all this work is that passers-by can see large groups of workers every day around this area, at least until around 9:30 p.m.

At the same time, quiet now reigns over Şişhane, which is where the tunnels that connect to the bridge are located. Some of the renowned lamp and light accessories shops in this neighborhood shut down after work began on the bridge, re-opening in other spots in the city. One local café owner, Ümit Katırcı, notes he is waiting impatiently for the day all the work comes to an end. At this point, the expected end date for work on the bridge is October 2013.

Work on the Taksim-Yenikapı metro line was actually begun back in 1998 by the İstanbul Municipality. The Haliç metro bridge is an important part of this line, and it has finally begun to emerge before curious eyes. The installation of the legs for this bridge began in January 2012, with very careful measurements and calculations involved. Special cranes were brought in for the enormous legs, which were built in Yalova and weigh between 380 and 450 tons each. The crane, which has the capacity to carry up to 800 tons, will be removed from the site after the actual top part of the bridge is installed.

The Taksim-Şişhane-Unkapanı-Şehzadebaşı-Yenikapı metro line will run over the ground when it emerges in Azapkapı to cross the bridge being constructed over the Golden Horn. The metro will then head back underground when the line hits the skirts of the Süleymaniye hills. The total length of the bridge over the water will be 460 meters. When you include the Unkapanı and Azapkapı viaducts, the bridge will run for 936 meters. Interestingly, when completed, both sides of the bridge will also be open to pedestrian use. There is also to be one metro station located in the middle of the bridge itself.

The construction projects linked to the Haliç metro bridge were approved on July 6, 2005 by the Protection Council, though debates over how the bridge will affect the historical silhouette of the area have been ongoing ever since.

Warnings from UNESCO heeded, bridge height lowered

The first plan for the bridge had the height at 82 meters; warnings that later emerged from UNESCO that it would consider putting İstanbul on the list of “world heritage cities at risk” because of this bridge height prompted planners to lower the height of the bridge a few times. When the bridge is completed, the İstanbul metro will boast an unbroken ride all the way from the Hacıosman station to the Yenikapı Transfer Station. Once at Yenikapı, passengers will be able to transfer to the Marmaray and Aksaray-Airport light metro lines.

At this point, plans are for the bridge to be tested in October 2013. An estimated 1 million passengers a day will be using the bridge once it opens.

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