Government vows to build two quake-proof ‘cities' in İstanbul

May 11, 2011, Wednesday/ 13:58:00

Following the announcement of his long-awaited “crazy project” to build a new waterway in İstanbul province, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday unveiled his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) plans to build two new satellite cities in the province that will be resistant to earthquakes, a major challenge to İstanbul.

Speaking at the Haliç Congress Center in İstanbul on Wednesday, the prime minister publicly announced the details of his plans for two new cities in İstanbul province. He said one will be built along the Black Sea coast on the European side while the other will be built on the Anatolian side, without mentioning the exact locations of the new cities.

The prime minister said the project aims to alleviate the possible effects of a major tremor that is feared to hit the city of 12 million in the near future. He underscored that the perpetually rising population of İstanbul will not increase with the new project as it only foresees the transfer of residents from areas at high risk of earthquake damage to these cities.

“Just as how Kanal İstanbul [the new waterway project] became a world project, today's projects will also be so. We are going to start building two new cities in İstanbul [province]. One of these cities will be along the Black Sea coast on the European side and the other on the Anatolian side. We will not increase İstanbul's population with these two cities. We will build these cities with urban transformation and quake preparation in mind. We are now set to take steps to realize these [goals],” he said. The prime minister underscored that the people who currently reside in high-risk areas will not be forced to move but given the option to do so.

Noting that the government wants to save İstanbulites from a risk that has the potential to take the lives of thousands, the prime minister said the Black Sea coast is where the risk of an earthquake is lowest in İstanbul. Erdoğan said a total of 2 million people are expected to call the two cities home.

Erdoğan said the construction of these cities will begin one year after the upcoming general elections because more detailed plans and studies are needed. The prime minister underscored that by “two cities” he does not actually mean two separately administered cities. He also added that they will be built along the highway that will cross over the third bridge to be built in İstanbul.

İstanbul's third bridge over the Bosporus will connect Sarıyer's Garipçe village on the European side with Beykoz's Poyrazköy neighborhood on the Asian side.

“These two cities will not harm İstanbul's spirit or its environment,” Erdoğan assured, saying that they will be built in a way that will comply with the city's “spirit.”

Erdoğan's “two cities” project follows his ambitious Kanal İstanbul. Erdoğan did not make the project's exact location and its cost clear, but it is expected to stretch between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara near Silivri and Çatalca, the two westernmost districts of İstanbul province. The project is expected to take the entire naval transportation burden off the Bosporus.

Erdoğan said the new city to be built on the European side will be close to the canal, but not right on its banks, which will have large parks, shopping centers and congress halls.

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