Italy to set aside €12bn for world’s longest suspension bridge

Messina Strait, Italy Messina Strait, Italy (Photo: AdobeStock)

Italy’s government is to set aside 12 billion euros (US$12.7 billion) to build what would be the world’s longest suspension bridge across the Strait of Messina in Sicily.

The bridge has been in the planning stages for decades, but the company created to oversee its construction was shut down in 2013 as part of a drive to cut expenses as Italy struggled to rein in rising public debt during a long economic recession.

Last month, a consortium led by Italian group Webuild said it had delivered a revamped version of the project, updated according to the most recent technological developments and technical regulations.

The bridge connecting Sicily to the southern Calabria region would be some 5 km (3.11 miles) long and include a central span measuring 3.3 km - easily beating the current record 2.02 km central span on the Canakkale Bridge in Turkey.

Supporters of the project believe a fast rail and road connection would boost the underdeveloped economy of southern Italy.

They also say it would enable cargo ships from the Suez Canal to off-load in Sicily, from where trains would transport the goods to the north, reducing the need for costly voyages across the Mediterranean Sea.

At present cars, trucks and trains have to cross the strait that divides Messina and the toe of Italy by ferry, a journey which takes around 20 minutes from departure to docking.

But there is also opposition to the bridge, with those against the proposed project questioning the wisdom of building in earthquake zone as well as highlighting the potential harmful effects on the landscape and ecosystem, as well as the high cost.

Presenting the government’s 2024 budget, Italy’s economy minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said the €12 billion would be invested over a number of years with the first three instalments paid by 2026.

Infrastructure minister Matteo Salvini has made the bridge a priority in the government’s agenda and has previously stated that he wants construction to start in the summer of 2024.


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