Three lanes on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, one of the two bridges linking Asia and Europe in İstanbul, were closed to traffic last week, the start of a three-month period of renovation on the bridge. Renovation has also begun on the Haliç Bridge. Officials have urged people to use public transport instead of private vehicles unless absolutely necessary while work is under way on the bridges. However, long queues built up in different parts of İstanbul, particularly during rush hour last week. The İstanbul-based International Transporters Association (UND) recently released a statement recommending transporting goods via ships from one continent to the other as the traffic on the FSM Bridge causes delays in delivering ordered purchases.
Mustafa Ilıcalı, a transportation consultant for the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and an academic at Bahçeşehir University, has suggested using public transport vehicles while the FSM Bridge is under renovation. “It is normal for bridges that are used that often and by such a large number of vehicles to undergo renovation. I am sure that the Turkish Highways Directorate will complete the work as scheduled. During this period, we should all use public transportation. If an individual wants to use a private vehicle, he or she should take at least two or three more passengers with them. But as far as I have seen, the traffic is not as bad as on the first day of the work to retrofit the bridge. I believe that is because more passengers started to use ferries to get to the other side. Ferries have the capacity to carry 1 million passengers a day. Before the work started, ferries used to carry about 150,000 passengers a day. And now every day an extra 15,000 or 16,000 passengers have been added to this number,” Ilıcalı said.
İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has voiced the same recommendation, saying that people should use ferries instead of waiting in traffic queues. “I am sure that İstanbulites will pay attention to this issue as it is of utmost importance. Not only because it is such a delicate time due to the ongoing retrofit but because İstanbul always has a problem with traffic, and getting to the other continent by ferry instead of by car will help minimize traffic significantly.”