Istanbul-Izmir highway project set to boost regional economy
Cutting in half to three hours the travel time between Istanbul and Izmir, two of Turkey's biggest cities, the Gebze-Orhangazi-Izmir highway, to be completed in 2017, is set to create huge changes in the economic and social life all along its route. Cities such as Kocaeli, Bursa, Balikesir and Izmir, which lie along the highway, will likely experience a boom in exports, tourism, and employment. As the project links Izmir to both Istanbul and Europe, it will boost Izmir's economic and social development, according to Ekrem Demirtas, head of the Izmir Chamber of Commerce. Last month Ankara signed a build-operate-transfer deal with a consortium of six construction companies to build the road, the country's largest-ever highway project. The $11 billion project will include a 3,000- meter suspension bridge, the world's second longest, over the Gulf of Izmit. According to Demirtas, the project will help Izmir to reach its tourism goals. "Our tourism centers, such as Cesme, Seferihisar, Foca, Dikili and Bergama, will attract more visitors," he said.