SK Engineering & Construction (E&C) and Daelim Industrial won a 3.5 trillion ($3 billion) contract to construct the world's longest suspension bridge in Turkey, the two companies said this month. A four-way consortium, consisting of SK, Daelim and two Turkish builders, Limak and Yapi Merkezi, was selected as a preferred bidder late last month for the project to build the 3.7-kilometer Canakkale suspension bridge, outpacing the Japanese consortium of Itochu and IHI.
The contract is expected to be finalized in mid-February, according to an SK E&C official, who said each member has a 25 percent stake in the mega project.
"We will begin the work in March if everything goes as planned," an SK official said. "We will take the necessary steps going forward to finalize the deal. Once completed in 2023, it will become the world's longest suspension bridge."
The consortium will build and then operate the Canakkale suspension bridge, which will link Lapseki to Gelibolu districts of Canakkale, for 16 years and two months to collect its investment before transferring ownership to the Turkish government. "We competed hard to become a preferred bidder," a Daelim official said. "We are glad that the Turkish authorities recognize our engineering, construction expertise and knowhow about building suspension bridges. As the leader of the consortium, we will do our best to successfully undertake the job."
Daelim built the Yi Sun-shin Bridge and many other suspension bridges in Korea over the years, accumulating advanced knowhow in the field. This extensive track record enabled the consortium to secure the contract from the Turkish government, according to the official. In addition, SK has been implementing a number of infrastructure developments in Turkey, establishing an extensive business network with government officials and corporate leaders.
For instance, SK opened a 5.4-kilometer undersea tunnel, linking Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus strait of Istanbul, last December. The builder opened the Eurasia Tunnel three months earlier than initially scheduled, displaying its superb construction capability, the company said.
Following the latest 3.5 trillion won contract, SK, Daelim and other Korean builders expect to win more orders in Turkey and other countries. Korean construction companies garnered many lucrative overseas contracts in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but they have struggled in recent years.
According to the International Construction Information Service, last year the nation saw a 40-percent drop in earnings from global construction projects compared to the year before. But having clinched the bid for this multi-billion dollar project, anticipation is high for local builders this year. Work on the Canakkale Bridge will begin in March and is expected to be finished by 2023.
An official of the Overseas Construction Association of Korea said winning the Canakkale Bridge Project made up for losing a nuclear power plant project in Turkey to a group of Japanese builders last year, and the Korean construction industry is likely to win more overseas construction projects as the government is prepared to support the industry to capture more construction projects abroad.
The new government in Turkey unveiled future transportation projects including a long-awaited bridge ove Canakkale, or the Dardanelles Strait, and a third highway for Istanbul. Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Lutfi Elvan announced plans for the bridge, highway and the expansion of the country's land transportation network.
Seeking to offer an alternative route for traffic into Europe from Turkey and vice versa, the government approved plans for the construction of a bridge in Canakkale over the Dardanelles Strait, a gateway to the Marmara and the Black Sea.
"Motorists travelling from western provinces like Izmir, Denizli, Kutahya and Manisa as well as Bursa (south of Istanbul) will be able to bypass Istanbul when travelling to Europe. This will significantly relieve the traffic in Istanbul," Lutfi Elvan said.
The government announced plans for the bridge in 2012 that would connect the two sides of the Canakkale province. However, the plans for the three-lane bridge appeared to have been scrapped until Elvan's statements. Such a bridge had never been planned before for the strait, which is the only maritime outlet for littoral countries of the Black Sea, although Persians, en route to Greece, are believed to have passed over the strait via a makeshift bridge consisting of ships connected together by ropes in the fifth century B.C.
The Canakkale bridge will be an addition to the Turkish government's ambitious bridge projects. A bridge that will span the length of the Gulf of Izmit in the southeast of Istanbul will be opened next year. Izmit bridge will reduce travel times between Istanbul and Yalova, a city located between Istanbul and Izmit. The government will concentrate on highways to ease traffic and improve travel times, Elvan also said.