Italian Innovations that Make the Çanakkale Bridge Great

The deck of the Turkish record-breaking bridge was constructed following a model designed for the Messina Bridge.

There is a significant piece of Italy and the best of Italian engineering in the Çanakkale Bridge, the bridge that spans the Dardanelles Strait and still holds the unmatched record for the world’s longest suspension bridge.

Its deck, suspended between the two towers for a length of 2,023 meters (just 32 meters longer than the Akashi Bridge), was actually built following the “Messina Deck type,” a highly innovative engineering model designed for the future Messina Bridge, which, once completed, will break all records with a span of 3,300 meters.

Born from the project developed by the Eurolink Consortium, of which Webuild Group is a partner, the “Messina Deck type” is a highly innovative engineering solution. In addition to its wing profile, the shape of the deck resembles that of a fighter jet’s fuselage, with openings that allow the wind to pass through the structure, minimizing its impact. To understand the significance of this innovation, consider that the deck of the Akashi Bridge, which does not have this feature, flexes laterally under wind pressure by 30 meters, while, according to the project, the Messina Bridge is expected to flex laterally by only 10 to 11 meters under load. A truly unique result for a bridge with a central span of 3,300 meters.

Thus, the Canakkale Bridge, the bridge of records built in Turkey, has also adopted this incredible innovation, enabling it to withstand even the most powerful wind pressures without any problems.

Story of a bridge Born to Break Records

Ten minutes by car instead of 90 minutes by ferry. Travelers who have crossed the Canakkale Bridge for over a year know well how transportation in this region of Turkey has changed since the bridge’s inauguration. The bridge is the connecting link of the Kinali-Balikesir highway, a 321-kilometer long road that connects Istanbul to Balikesir and effectively joins Thrace with the Anatolian peninsula.

To make the great leap across the Strait, the bridge measures a total of 5,169 meters, while its towers (318 meters tall) sink 37 meters deep into the seabed. The foundations of the bridge required special interventions to consolidate the seabed. Indeed, 196 metallic piles, each 2.5 meters in diameter, were positioned, essential for providing stability and solidity to the tower structures in an area not only exposed to winds but also subject to seismic risk. The width of the deck reaches 45 meters and floats 72.8 meters above sea level, allowing the passage of even the largest commercial vessels, Suezmax ships, in the world.

The bridge of records is the result of this enormous engineering feat and a tradition dating back to Turkey’s past, from the construction of the three maxi bridges over the Bosphorus, two of which were built by Webuild. The latest achievement, that completed over the Dardanelles Strait, harks back to ancient times, when the formidable army of Xerxes, the son of Darius the Great, crossed the Strait on a bridge made of boats in 480 BC. Since then, and perhaps even before, the dream of a suspended road that would allow for the great leap has always remained alive. Until a particular historical event convinced the Turkish government that it was time to carry out the project.

A Gift to Modern Turkey

A hundred years of modern Turkey. A historic date that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to celebrate with a plan called Vision 2023, which envisaged the modernization of Turkey’s major infrastructures. Billions of euros were invested to transform Turkey into a modern country from an infrastructure point of view, arriving at the centennial milestone with a series of engineering wonders to showcase to the world. One of these is the Canakkale Bridge, designed to commemorate – in every characteristic – the origins of the state.

Indeed, the bridge’s official name, Çanakkale Bridge 1915, commemorates the Gallipoli campaign won by the Ottoman army led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on March 18, 1915. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the construction work for the bridge began on March 18, 2017, exactly 102 years after that battle, and that its inauguration was held on March 18, 2022.

Even the final measurement of the tower height (318 meters) was chosen to commemorate that date, while the deck span (2023) celebrates the first century since the birth of the Turkish Republic.

In this way, the country chose an incredible and unique infrastructure to become a symbol of the nation, its history, and its desire to grow and modernize.