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Movement against the third bridge, Turkey

The 3rd bridge is a bridge and interlinking highways project planned in the northern part of Istanbul on the Bosphorous, between Garipce Village and Poyrazkoy. It is operational since August 2016.


The 3rd bridge over Bosphorus (or as officially called “Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge”) is a bridge and interlinking highways project in the northern part of Istanbul on the Bosphorous, between Garipce and Poyrazkoy villages. There are already two bridges on the Bosphorus connecting the two continents (Asia and Europe). Th plans for thhis third bridge project has first come up in 1993 and has ever since encountered an increasing number and variety of opponent groups. The current project was not subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment according to the Turkish Environmental Legislation since it was claimed to be a nationwide strategic project which was already planned before the EIA legislation came into force. During the decision-making process people who would be directly or indirectly affected by the project have not been consulted.  The project will have huge ecological impacts on Istanbul’s Northern areas where some of the most important wetlands, forests and water basins of Istanbul are located and it will exacerbate population pressures while doing nothing to relieve urban transportation. In fact, privatization decision is taken for 71 immovables in İstanbul by High Council for Privatisation and 2000 decares of land in the city will be zoned for construction. Also it is estimated that it will re-direct transit traffic which constitutes a mere 2-3 percent of total traffic. Many NGOs and in particular The Union of Chambers of Turkish Architects and Engineers objected the project which has been conceived as a private auto-transport focused solution for a giant metropolis like Istanbul. Opposition has culminated in the 2 million Istanbulites campaign organised by environmental organisations and the Green Party in Turkey to stop the construction, in tribute to the approximately 2 million trees to be cut down to make way for the third bridge. Despite these, the last bridge deck was installed in March 2016 . In August 2016, the bridge, named Yavuz Sultan Selim, was opened with a ceremony.  IC İçtaş-Astaldi JV will operate the third bridge for 10 years 2 months and 20 days. Treasury guarantee worth of 135.000 car tolls per day are granted. This Treasury guarantee is an evidence that the public bears the costs of the bridge.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Movement against the third bridge, Turkey
State or province:Istanbul
Location of conflict:Garipce village and Poyrazkoy Village
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Deforestation
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The 3rd bridge is part of the 414 km long Northern Marmara Highway Project linking Adapazari to Tekirdag. After the 421 km Istanbul-Izmir Highway Project, it is the second largest Build Operate Transfer project in Turkey.

Level of Investment:6000000000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:12 Million (Istanbuls population)
Start of the conflict:1993
End of the conflict:08/2016
Company names or state enterprises:IC ICTAS Construction (IC Ictas) from Turkey - Contractor
Astaldi from Italy
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Green Party, Platform for Life Instead of Third Bridge, Neighborhood Initiative of Arnavutkoy, The Union of Chambers of Turkish Architects and Engineers
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Trade Chambers
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Air pollution
Potential: Desertification/Drought
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsAlergies and asthma due to constantly living under dust clouds.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Development of alternatives:A holistic and human-centric tranport system of high service and management quality that does not destroy the natural/ecological integrity in the North of Istanbul as well as the historical/cultural fabric of the city; that supports a linear, East-West direction, development; that creates an integrated public transport network by increasing the share of marine transport also supported by roads and in which rail transport systems form the main backbone; that provides integrity of logistics and transit traffic with urban transport by seeking a balance of population and employment between the two shores is proposed.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the opposition, the last bridge deck was installed in March 2016 with a ceremony. In August 2016, the bridge, named as Yavuz Sultan Selim, was opened with a ceremony. IC İçtaş-Astaldi JV consortium will operate the third bridge for 10 years 2 months and 20 days. The bridge and connecting highways are operational since August 2016.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

On the national law scale, the construction of the 3rd Bridge and its connecting roads is against the 9th National Development Plans Settlement-Urbanisation Principles, Physical Development Planning Law and its regulations, Bosphorous Law, EIA Bylaws (even if its not subject to an EIA), Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration Law, Law on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties; on the international law scale, the project is against the Bern Convention, IUCN Criteria and the principles of the European Urban Charter, thus it is a problematic and inacceptable project.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Voulvouli, A., 2011, Transenvironmental protest: the Arnavutky anti-bridge campaign in stanbul, Environmental Politics, 20, 6: 861-878.

rd Bridge Project Evaluation Report (The Union of Chambers of Turkish Architects and Engineers Chamber of City Planners, Istanbul Branch) September 2010 (in Turkish). Link to this report:
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Blog(in Turkish)
[click to view]

Facebook account,
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Third Bridge Motorway design, introductory video
[click to view]

Third bridge over Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait opens
[click to view]

Istanbul’s third bridge completed in record time as last bridge deck installed
[click to view]

Turkey's Treasury Moves to Bolster Building Projects With Guarantees
[click to view]

Ekumenopolis(in English - A fragment from a documentary movie about Istanbul covering urban renewal and third bridge issues)
[click to view]

Other documents

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge The deforestation during construction
[click to view]

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge The deforestation during construction
[click to view]

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge
[click to view]

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge View from the 3rd bridge on Bosphorus
[click to view]

Other comments:The total amount of investment of 6 Billion USD includes the Northern Marmara Highway.
Meta information
Contributor:Hande Paker, Akgun Ilhan
Last update20/12/2016
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