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Architects of Unity,Türkiye and Greece Set the Stage for Maritsa River Bridge Construction

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, leaves after his meeting with Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. After several years of strained relations that raised tensions to alarming levels, longtime regional rivals Greece and Turkey have made a significant step in mending ties during a visit to Athens by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Enhancing Bilateral Ties Türkiye and Greece Unveil Plans for a New Bridge

In a significant development aimed at fostering stronger ties between Türkiye and Greece, both nations have jointly decided to embark on the construction of a second bridge over the Maritsa (Meriç) River. Serving as a key element of their shared border, this bridge is poised to symbolize a new era of collaboration and connectivity between the neighboring countries.

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The proposed bridge, with main spans measuring 110-180-110 meters (361-591-361 feet), is set to be a monumental engineering feat. In a strategic move, the tenders for this ambitious project will be separately initiated for the Turkish and Greek sides, ensuring a meticulous and efficient execution.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of the recent diplomatic meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on December 7, 2023. The discussions during this meeting reaffirmed the commitment of both nations to work collaboratively across various sectors, with a particular focus on energy and tourism.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloğlu, the key figure behind the revelation of plans for the new border bridge, shed light on the technical aspects of the project. “It is planned to work according to the short pylon extradosed bridge type with 2×2 lanes on a single deck, while the main bridge spans are planned to be 110-180-110 meters,” explained Minister Uraloğlu.

Uraloğlu emphasized the necessity of the new bridge by addressing the challenges faced by the existing Ipsala-Kipi Bridge, which was originally built in 1958. Despite its structural integrity, the bridge faced limitations due to the surge in heavy vehicle traffic and the concentration of tourists. This realization prompted the decision to construct a second bridge, a vision that was initially outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed in Athens on January 22, 2004.

Unity,Türkiye and Greece

The historical context was further elaborated by Minister Uraloğlu, who detailed the timeline of agreements and protocols that led to the current initiative. “In the meeting held on Feb. 15, 2017, to make evaluations together with the Greek side at the technical level, it was decided that the meetings would be in the Joint Planning and Monitoring Project Committee (OPIPK) format,” he said.

A crucial aspect of the project is the height of the bridge above the river surface, set at 10 meters for clear passage. The engineering details include adherence to the short pylon extradosed bridge type, with 2×2 lanes on a single deck. The main bridge spans are projected to be 110-180-110 meters, with additional considerations for bridge approach spans at 44 meters.

Bridge above Meric River and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey

The decision to tender the construction separately for the Greek and Turkish sides underscores a commitment to transparency and fair competition. To ensure quality control and adherence to project specifications, a joint inspection group will supervise both the Greek and Turkish side contractors during the construction phase.

Minister Uraloğlu provided insights into the broader impact of the project, highlighting its significance in the context of the European E-84 road or D-110 Highway in Türkiye. Stretching approximately 180 kilometers from the Greek border near Ipsala to Silivri, this project will play a pivotal role in enhancing regional connectivity and trade.

With its starting point at the Ipsala customs exit and concluding at the Kipi customs entrance after 1,500 meters, the new bridge project is not just about physical infrastructure; it’s a testament to the collaborative spirit and shared vision of Türkiye and Greece.

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In conclusion, the unveiling of plans for the new bridge marks a milestone in the bilateral relations between Türkiye and Greece. As these neighboring nations join forces to enhance connectivity and infrastructure, the bridge stands not only as a testament to engineering prowess but also as a symbol of friendship and cooperation in the geopolitical landscape.

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