Turkey will begin the tendering process for a new 45km canal to link the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, the minister of transport Ahmet Arslan announced on Monday.

The plan is to deliver the mega-project by 2023, that is, in time for the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

The canal with be carved through Istanbul, in parallel to the Bosporus Straight. The objective will be to alleviate congestion from one of the busiest waterways in the world, through which, an estimated 50,000 vessels pass every year.

From Istanbul’s Kucukcemece coast will be carved, link with the Sea of Marmara, and continue to the Sazlidere Dam north, reaching the Black Sea north of the town of Durusu.

The cost of the project is unknown, but Turkish media estimate a €14bn price tag for the canal alone, which will be paid out over the course of five years.

The project will include a cluster of mega-projects aiming at Istanbul’s urban regeneration, including three underwater tunnels for vehicles and a new airport, which authorities claim will be the largest in the world.