Kanal Istanbul Project Kicks Off with Bridge Construction

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday launched a $15 billion canal project intended to relieve pressure on the busy Bosphorus Strait by laying the foundations of a bridge over the planned route.

The government says it is increasingly hazardous for tankers to wind their way between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea down the congested Bosphorus, which divides the European and Asian halves of Istanbul, a city of 15 million people.

Already 43,000 ships pass through every year, many more than the 25,000 the government considers safe, causing longer and longer waiting times. By 2050, it is estimated that the number will rise to 78,000.