ANKARA (Sputnik) — Erdogan added that Turkey was preparing to build a bridge across the Dardanelles strait, which links the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea.
"There were those who did not believe that the bridge would be built, they mocked us. But we did not diverge from the course and we did it. You are the people who stood up to F-16 fighter jets on July 15, and you deserve such masterpieces. This bridge is the third one to link the continents," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ceremony, referring to the July 15 coup attempt in the country.
"This is not just a bridge, it is a work of art, and engineering miracle, the widest bridge in the world and the longest bridge to carry trains. Creating such a bridge is a worthy endeavor for our country, for our people. This bridge will not only service Istanbul, this is a bridge connecting Europe and Asia, it is the continuation of the great Silk Road," he said.
The ceremony, shown live by the NTV channel, was attended by foreign leaders such as Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov and Bosnian Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic.
The bridge will open for traffic on Saturday and will charge private vehicles around $3 for passage.
Construction of the bridge began in May 2013, when its first stone was laid down. Named after the Ottoman Empire's ninth sultan, the bridge has a total of 10 lanes, eight of which are for motor vehicles and two for trains. The bridge is 59 meters (193 feet) wide and 2,164 meters (some 7,100 feet) long. The cost of the project amounted to some $3 billion.