(MENAFN- AzerNews) Italy's Council of Ministers on Thursday approved a decree that
will allow for the building of the world's longest suspension
bridge between the island of Sicily and the Italian mainland.
Such a bridge has been discussed since ancient times, but it is
the first time the project has received this level of formal
In a statement on Thursday, the ministry of infrastructure and
transport said the bridge would be 'the crown jewel of Italian
The north-eastern most tip of Sicily is clearly visible from the
western shore of Calabria, but deep water and fast currents between
the two land masses mean building a bridge is a daunting challenge
According to technical specifications, once completed the bridge
will be 3,666 meters long, with a single span of 3,300 meters.
This means the central span will be over 50 percent longer than
the 2,023-meter central span of the Canakkale Bridge in Türkiye,
currently the world's longest suspension bridge. The Turkish
structure, which connects the European part of Türkiye to the Asian
part, was completed a year ago. The bridge took six years to build,
and reportedly cost at least 2.7 billion U.S. dollars.
The timetable and budget for the Italian Messina Bridge project
have not yet been announced, but according to previous estimates
the project will take at least six years to complete, at a cost of
around 8.5 billion euros (9 billion U.S. dollars).
As far back as 251 BC, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote
about plans to construct a floating bridge to connect Sicily to the
Italian mainland, and other projects were discussed in later
centuries. The first modern-day project was announced in 1981, and
a blueprint for the project was produced in 2005.
The case in favor of the bridge has included economic
development both in Sicily and Calabria. Data shows the per-capita
income in both these regions is around half that of Italy. The
bridge would provide cheaper and faster transport, and connect
high-velocity trains from the mainland to Sicily for the first
However, critics of the project are concerned over potential
cost overruns, involvement by organized crime groups, vulnerability
to earthquakes, and adverse environmental impacts.
According to Thursday's statement from the government, the
project will be paid for over several years by tolls on bridge
traffic, with initial funding from the ministry of infrastructure
and transport and the ministry of finance.
Italy's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and
Transport, Matteo Salvini, said in Thursday's statement that the
project would be environmental friendly, reducing greenhouse gas
emissions associated with transportation. It would also increase
tourism and attract industry to the area, Salvini said.
The project will be based on previous plans developed in 2011,
adapted to reflect 'new technical, safety, and environmental
standards', the government said.
Further details on the plans for the bridge are expected in the