Turkey held its first tender on Thursday to prepare to build a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul, a Transport Ministry spokesman said, signaling progress on the project despite widespread criticism over its cost and environmental impact.
The tender was for the planning phase of reconstructing two historic bridges located in the area where the 45-km (28 mile) Kanal Istanbul, championed by President Tayyip Erdogan, is expected to run.
The canal will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul with the Marmara Sea to the south and is estimated to cost 75 billion lira ($11.6 billion). The government says it will ease shipping traffic on the Boshphorus Strait and prevent accidents there.
Five companies bid on Thursday for the planning of the reconstruction of the historic Odabasi and Dursunkoy bridge, state-owned Anadolu news agency said. The valid bids ranged from 408,000 lira ($63,500) to 550,000 lira.