Bridge Spans the Bosphorus to Connect Europe and Asia (1973)
The Bosphorus Bridge, also called the First Bosphorus Bridge (Turkish: Boğaziçi Köprüsü or 1. Boğaziçi Köprüsü) is one of two suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait (Turkish: Boğaziçi) in Istanbul, Turkey; thus connecting Europe and Asia (the other one is the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, which is called the Second Bosphorus Bridge.) The bridge is located between Ortaköy (on the European side) and Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side).
It is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel towers and inclined hangers. The aerodynamic deck hangs on zigzag steel cables. It is 1,560 m (5,118 ft) long with a deck width of 33.40 m (110 ft). The distance between the towers (main span) is 1,074 m (3,524 ft) and the total height of the towers is 165 m (541 ft). The clearance of the bridge from sea level is 64 m (210 ft).
The Bosphorus Bridge had the 4th longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1973, and the longest outside the United States. At present, it is the 21st longest suspension bridge span in the world.
The idea of a bridge crossing the Bosphorus dates back to antiquity. For Emperor Darius I The Great of Persia (522 BC – 485 BC), as recorded by the Greek writer Herodotus in his Histories, Mandrocles of Samos once engineered a pontoon bridge that stretched across the Bosphorus, linking Asia to Europe, so that Darius could pursue the fleeing Scythians as well as move his army into position in the Balkans to overwhelm Macedon. The first project for a permanent bridge across the Bosphorus was proposed to Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II by the Bosphorus Railroad Company in 1900, which included a rail link between the continents.
The decision to build a bridge across the Bosphorus was taken in 1957 by Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. For the structural engineering work, a contract was signed with the British firm Freeman Fox & Partners in 1968. The bridge was designed by the renowned British civil engineers Sir Gilbert Roberts and William Brown who also designed the Humber Bridge, Severn Bridge, Forth Road Bridge, Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Volta River Bridge. The construction started in February 1970, the ceremonies were attended by President Cevdet Sunay and Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel and was carried out by the Turkish firm Enka Construction & Industry Co. along with the co-contractors Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company. (England) and Hochtief AG (Germany). Thirty-five engineers and 400 men worked on the project.
The bridge was completed on 30 October 1973, one day after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, and opened by President Fahri Korutürk and Prime Minister Naim Talu. The cost of the bridge amounted to USD 200 million ($1.03 billion in 2013 dollars) .
At the time the bridge was opened, much was made of its being the first bridge between Europe and Asia since the pontoon bridge of Xerxes in 480 BCE. That bridge, however, spanned the Hellespont (Dardanelles), some distance away from the Bosphorus.
In June 2013, the country’s riot police were pictured securing access to the bridge.
The bridge highway has a total width of six lanes (eight including the emergency lanes.) Each direction has three lanes for vehicular traffic plus one emergency lane and one sidewalk. On weekday mornings, commuter traffic flows mostly westbound to the European part, so four of the six lanes run westbound and only two eastbound. Conversely, on weekday evenings, four lanes are dedicated to eastbound traffic and two lanes only to westbound.
In the first four years, pedestrians could walk over the bridge, reaching it with elevators inside the towers on both sides. No pedestrians or commercial vehicles like trucks are allowed to use the bridge today.
Nowadays, around 180,000 vehicles pass daily in both directions, almost 85% being automobiles. On 29 December 1997, the one-billionth vehicle passed the bridge. Fully loaded, the bridge sags about 90 cm (35 in) in the middle of the span.
The Bosphorus Bridge is a toll bridge, and a toll plaza with 13 toll booths is situated near the bridge on the Asian side. A toll is charged for passing from Europe to Asia, but not for passing in the reverse direction. Since 1999, some of the toll booths (#9 – #13), located to the far left as motorists approach them, are unmanned and equipped only with a remote payment system (Turkish: OGS) in order to speed up traffic. In addition to OGS, another toll pay system with special contactless smart cards (Turkish: KGS) was put in service for use at specific toll booths in 2005. Since April 3, 2006, toll booths accept no cash but only OGS or KGS. OGS device or KGS card can be obtained at various stations before toll plaza of highways and bridges. In 2006 the toll was 3.00 TL or about $2.00.
Since April 2007, a fully computerized LED lighting system of changing colours and patterns, developed by Philips, illuminates the bridge at night.
The Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon, organized annually in October, starts from the Anatolian part of Istanbul, crosses the Bosphorus on the bridge and ends in the European part during which the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic.
Visitors to Istanbul in October can sign up for the ‘fun run’ at many points round the city and take the opportunity to cross the bridge on foot. Many take picnics to enjoy the view.
The bridge was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 1000 lira banknotes of 1978-1986.
On 15 May 2005 at 7.00 a.m. local time, U.S. tennis star Venus Williams played a show game with Turkish standout İpek Şenoğlu on the bridge, the first tennis match ever to be played on two continents. The event was organized as a promotion ahead of the 2005 WTA Istanbul Cup and lasted five minutes. After the exhibition, they both threw a tennis ball into the Bosphorus.
On 17 July 2005 at 10.30 a.m. local time, British Formula One driver David Coulthard drove his Red Bull racing car on the bridge first from the European side to the Asian side, and then, after turning with a spectacular powerslide at the toll plaza, back to the European side for show. He parked his car in the garden of Dolmabahçe Palace where his ride had started. While crossing the bridge with his Formula 1 car, Coulthard was picked up by the automatic surveillance system and charged with a fine of 20 Euros because he passed through the toll booths without payment. His team accepted to pay for him.
- Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the second bridge spanning the strait, located about 5 km north of the Bosphorus Bridge
- Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, also called the Third Bosphorus Bridge, under construction
- Marmaray, the Bosphorus undersea railway tunnel under construction
- Turkish Straits
Notes and references
- General Directorate of Highways: Project information about the Bosphorus Bridge (Turkish)
- Erste Bosporusbrücke
- Project Gutenberg. The History of Herodotus — Volume 2 – Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- 1900’deki köprü projesinde raylı sistem de vardı. Sabah. 2009-07-17 – Retrieved on 19 March 2010. (Turkish)
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2013. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Banknote Museum: 6. Emission Group – One Thousand Turkish Lira – I. Series, II. Series, III. Series. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
- “Venus Williams’ match stretches two continents”. Hürriyet. 2005-05-15. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- “Venus Williams Plays Tennis on Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul”. Argus Photo Ltd. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- “Coulthard smokes ’em over Bosphorus”. Motoring. 2005-07-18. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- “Bridge too far for Coulthard”. BBC. 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- “F1: 2005 Turkish GP”. Motorsport. 2005-07-17. Retrieved 2009-06-25.