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Black Sea Coastal Highway Project, Turkey


The Black Sea Coastal Highway Project was initiated in 1987 to ease the access to the Black Sea region and to increase its economic activity. The objective of the project was to construct an uninterrupted highway from Samsun to Artvin, including 6 coastal cities. Mostly due to financial problems, the project was completed in 20 years and opened to traffic in 2007. The roads have been built along the sea, following the coast line and relatively higher than the sea level, disrupting and destroying the cities access and connection to the shore. Consequently, several conflicts emerged in those cities. In 1994, the people of Ordu protested against the damage the highway would create and the 5km part of the road passing by Ordu was interrupted. The construction of the road in the Trabzon region was also suspended in 2004, but later the decision was overruled by the State Council. Despite all objections, disputes and resistance, the highway was opened in 2007.

As the highway started to be used, there was an obvious decrease in the relation to the sea of the cities and this inequity in access to resources caused another series of conflicts. The highways damage on the rivers is another source of dispute. Unfortunately, these conflicts remained mainly local, having almost no repercussions in the media.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Black Sea Coastal Highway Project, Turkey
State or province:Samsun, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Artvin
Location of conflict:The section of the Black Sea Region from Samsun to Artvin
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Water

Project Details and Actors

Project details

For the construction of the Black Sea Coastal Highway, the project costs approximately 4,2 billion dollars.

million cubic meters of deposit/fill, 180 million tons of fortification and 3 million cubic meters of concrete were used/produced.

By means of excavation, the total length of the highway was reduced by 17 kilometres from 559 down to 542 kilometres.

kilometres of the excavations were realized in the Bolaman-Persembe road and 2 kilometres in the Samsun freeway. The project includes 263 bridges totalling 27 kilometres, 12 single tube tunnels totalling 41 kilometres and 20 double tube tunnels totalling 18.5 kilometres.

The first big part of the highway stretching from Samsun to Sarp Frontier put out to tender in 1987 was for the part between Carsibasi-Trabzon-Arakli, where traffic was heaviest.

Because the necessary allowance was not granted from the national budget for this and the following tenders, the project did not advance as planned. In order to meet the deadline and finish the highway, as of 1997 it was decided to put out the remaining parts to tender with foreign credits. Out of 16 sections, 12 were externally credited, 4 were covered by the national budget.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project4000000000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:33000000
Start of the conflict:1987
Company names or state enterprises:Kolin Const. Comp. from Turkey
Bayndr Const. Comp.
Limak Const. Comp.
Mapa Const. Comp.
Makyol Const. Comp.
Özaltın Holding from Turkey
Dogus Const. Comp.
Polat Const. Comp.
Guris Const. Comp.
Metis Const. Comp.
Ozisik Const. Comp.
Entes Const. Comp.
Nurol Const. Comp.
Tekfen Const. Comp.
Yuksel Const. Comp.
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Transport and Communication, General Directorate of Highways
International and Finance InstitutionsABN Amro Bank (ABN AMRO) from Netherlands
Bankers Trust from United States of America
Standard Bank Plc from South Africa
Chase Manhattan Bank from United States of America
Korfezbank from Turkey
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) (especially related to and during protests in Ordu in 1994)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Local non-political organizations
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Small and partial environmental improvements were accomplished, for example the fact that the coastal road was avoided as a highway in the Ordu area.
Proposal and development of alternatives:The most important alternative plan was to construct the road inland/midland, more like in a freeway structure. Although the costs and time consumption of inland road construction are higher (i.e. many more tunnels), the long-term environmental effects would have been less and more controllable. One cannot even plan the efficient life span of a road constructed by filling the sea.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the general reactions and objections to the project were appropriate and legitimate, the changing governments over the years ignored the issue. The roads have been constructed despite all. The long-term environmental effects of the project were not properly considered, now creating new forms of injustice.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

However, the state bends the rules a little bit to continue the project. First, it is stated that projects that started prior to 1992 are protected. Secondly the legislation states prohibiting the construction of any new road is prohibited. State often defended the idea that the road was already there and highway will be built on the old road. Since no new road is built, there will be no violation of the law (states position).

Link for this legislation (in Turkish):

The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning has a legislation that regulates the usage of the coastal line. The legislation dates back to 1990 (some changes made in 1992), and prohibits construction any new transportation road 50 meters towards the inland. And it is important to mention the Black Sea Project started in 1987.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

From World Development Foundation:

A Master Thesis with the title Local reactions to a national road project: The case of Black Sea coastal road project, Turkey by Sibel Esra Karatas from Middle East Technical University, Ankara:

One person who spent a lot of energy fighting against the project, especially in Ordu, is Nilgun Gozukan (in Turkish):

Sol Portal (in Turkish):

Wikipedia (in Turkish):

Giresun kaybetti, Ordu kazand (in Turkish):

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

A documentary: Son Kumsal, The Shore (In Turkish, with English subtitles):

Other comments:In this case, the whole Black Sea Coastal Road Project (including the area from Samsun to Rize) needs to be considered. The constructed roads in the framework of this project are preventing various scale water resources to reach the sea. Especially since 2007, when the highway was completed for use, there have been disastrous floods in Rize, Giresun, Ordu and Samsun.
For example, one recent destructive deluge in Samsun that resulted in a great mortality rate took place at the Samsun Coastal Road and Samsun Freeway junction, both a part of the Black Sea Coastal Highway. The so-called reclaimed rivers and riverbeds keep overflowing and causing floods.
The reasoning behind this long explanation is the fact that rivers and other water resources would be damaged during this road construction was well-known, but there was nobody, no organization, to bring awareness to or at least inform the authorities to take action.

Meta information

Contributor:Murat Uralkan
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1035