Connecting the Past and the Future

Turkey realizes ‘Ottoman dream’ with rail tunnel linking Europe to Asia | Al Jazeera America.

A train tunnel linking Europe with Asia opened today in Istanbul.

The engineering feat spans 8 miles to link Europe with Asia some 66 yards below the Bosporus  Strait. Called the Marmaray, it will carry around 1.5 million subway commuters daily throughout Istanbul, Europe’s biggest city, and serve high-speed and freight trains. 

The project has led to criticism of Prime Minister Erdogan; many call his extravagant projects “pharohic,” a reference to the mega-projects of Egypt’s kings.

Another issue is the tunnel’s ability to withstand earthquakes – it lies 12 miles from the Anatolian Fault.

The Marmaray, which Yildirim has described as the “safest structure in Istanbul,” is a free-floating structure designed to withstand a 9 magnitude earthquake. In the event of one, interlocking floodgates have been engineered to seal off each section.

We’ll see how that works, because a large earthquake is predicted to strike within the next generation.

the project also uncovered a Byzantine port with 13 shipwrecks, and other objects that date back 8,000 years.  that’s a long time, and shows the importance of the area as the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

The finds nearly doubled the project’s duration and prompted UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural arm, to voice concern about threats to the peninsula, a “world heritage” site.

To honor the finds, the government will open an “archaeological park” at the Yenikapi subway station to showcase relics.

Maybe I’ll get to ride it next summer if I make it to Turkey, hopefully without an earthquake trapping me in the tunnel.

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