Civilisation in the Istanbul area can be traced back some 8.000 years, and the antiquities that are likely to exist under the historical city are therefore of major archeologically significance to the world. Furthermore, those interested in the historical heritage of Istanbul will be aware that there are many existing buildings and structures above ground that are worthy of preservation for future generations.
The Marmaray Project will dramatically improve the environment in the city of Istanbul. It is a fact that the capacity of the Project to move people from one place to another will be ten to twelve times as high as the capacity of one bridge crossing the Istanbul Strait. This means that the increasing problems related to road congestion in the old city can be reduced, as can the increasingly adverse effects on the environment of Istanbul.
However, during construction of the Project, it will not be possible to avoid affecting some of the old historical buildings, nor will it be possible to avoid undertaking some deep excavations for the new stations.
There is therefore a special obligation on the different organisations involved in major infrastructure projects such as the Marmaray Project to plan and design the structures, the civil works and the architectural solutions in such a way that, to the extent reasonable and possible, they do not disturb the old buildings and the underground historical sites. In this regard, the Project has two distinct different portions.
The upgrading of the existing commuter rail portion - the on-surface portion of the Project - will be constructed in the existing alignment, and therefore deep excavations will not be needed here. Only buildings already forming part of the railway system are likely to be affected, and where such buildings (including the stations) are classified as Historical Buildings, they will be protected, moved to another position, or replicas will be constructed.
The construction of the Istanbul Strait Crossing portion includes three deep stations at Yenikapı, Sirkeci and Üsküdar, and these stations will be linked together by tunnels constructed in deep geological formations under the city and under the Istanbul Strait.
The tunnels have been planned to be so deep that no historical formations will be affected by the construction works, but the three deep stations can not be constructed without excavation of shafts or construction of box structures from the surface to house the concourse areas and platforms of the stations.
To minimise the impact on potential underground historical heritage, and in cooperation with the relevant committees and authorities, the Marmaray Project planning team has optimised the alignment of the railway link and thereby minimised the areas that will be affected. Furthermore, extensive studies of what is actually known about the potentially affected areas have been and are being conducted.
The Board for Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets will review and comment on the final planning of the Project.
It has furthermore been requested by DLH that the Contractor that will carry out the excavations will have two full-time historical experts engaged to follow the excavation works as they proceed. One expert will be an Ottoman historian and the other will be a Byzantine historian. These experts will be assisted by the experts already involved in the planning process. They will also ensure ongoing liaison and reporting to the three local Commissions for Preservation of the Culture and Natural Heritage and for Monuments and Archaeological Resources.
When items of importance are found, it will be reported to the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul, and they will in each case go to the site and decide what should be done to preserve the finding.
In this way, everything that can reasonably be done to protect the outstanding historical and cultural heritage of the old city of Istanbul has been done and planned, and the requirements imposed on the Contractors will encourage the Contractors to work together with DLH, the committees and the museums to ensure that this heritage will be preserved for the benefit of the people of both Turkey and the rest of the world, and for future generations.