Italy revives long-awaited dream of suspension bridge to Sicily

Italy has long toyed with the idea of building a bridge between the island of Sicily with the mainland.

The hugely ambitious engineering project was in preliminary stages for decades before being shelved in 2013.

Now, Italy’s new right-wing government has said it wants to revive the plans.

Prime minister Giorgia Meloni has announced she will ask the EU to help fund the multi-billion euro proposal.

Can you drive from Sicily to mainland Italy?

Currently, you can go by plane, boat or a train that is carried by a ferry from mainland Italy to the island of Sicily.

However, as far back as Roman times, the idea of a bridge to connect the two land masses was debated.

In fact, according to some historians, the ancient Romans did actually build one made of barrels and boats.

Dictator Benito Mussolini revived the dream of linking Sicily with the mainland, but it wasn’t until the government of Silvio Berlusconi in the early 2000s that the scheme gained funding from Brussels.

In 2009, a contract for the construction was awarded to the Messina Strait Company.

The proposed rail and road connection was to link the Sicilian city of Messina with the region of Calabria on the mainland.

But plans were scrapped in 2013 after former premier Mario Monti closed the construction company in a series of austerity cuts.

Why is there no bridge from mainland Italy to Sicily?

The plans for a suspension bridge between Sicily and the mainland have not been unanimously supported.

Advocates claim the connection will help boost the island’s stagnating economy and lessen the gap between the country’s wealthy north and poorer south.

Supporters also say that it will allow cargo ships arriving down the Suez Canal to transfer their goods onto trains in Sicily.

This would then enable them to be transported quickly up to the north of the country, saving money on lengthy sea voyages.

The rail and road connection would also ease the pressure on the overcrowded ferry services that shuttle cars, lorries and trains over the Strait of Messina.

But critics maintain that the gigantic bridge would be a waste of public funds and a risky undertaking in an active seismic zone.

Environmentalists also warn of the risk to local ecosystems and the aesthetic damage to the landscape.

When will the Strait of Messina bridge be built?

In her first budget since taking up the role as PM last month, Meloni reinstated the company that would oversee the construction of the Strait of Messina suspension bridge.

“This is the government and legislature that have the ambition to lay the first stone and start building this blessed project,” said Matteo Salvini, Italy’s infrastructure minister and leader of the League coalition party.

The proposed road and rail connection would have a central span of over 3km long, making it the longest suspension bridge in the world.

If the project goes ahead, it looks set to cost several billion euros. Meloni has said she will ask the EU for financial aid.

Salvini said he would discuss the project in Brussels on 5 December.

He added that construction would kick off in two years’ time and would take around five years to e complete.

“Starting work on the construction of the Strait Bridge is one of my goals,” Salvini told Italian broadcaster RAI last month.

“The transshipment of ferries, in addition to pollution and time wasting, costs people more in a year than it would cost to build the bridge.”

Source link here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button