The tunnel was opened early on Nov. 22 despite ongoing construction works, after the existing passage on the mountain to the Black Sea province of Rize from the eastern province of Erzurum was blocked by heavy snowfall.
The 14.7-kilometre tunnel originally consists of two tubes. It will become Turkey’s longest highway tunnel once officially opened. The Turkish government says it is the third longest in the world.
The project was first introduced in 1880 as part of development plans of the Ottoman Empire. However, the initial construction began in 1930, after modern Turkey was founded. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan re-launched the project in 2012, when he was a prime minister. The tunnel is set to cut through Ovit Mountain, which is located between İkizdere district in Rize and the İspir district in Erzurum, to bypass a route that is hampered by bad weather conditions during winter. Some 600 people have been working on the project.