Italy is going ahead with a controversial plan to link the mainland with Sicily by way of the world’s largest suspension bridge.
Critics say that at six billion euros (£5.4 billion / $7.7 billion), the cost of the two-and-a-half mile bridge across the Strait of Messina is far too high.
Questions have also been raised about the wisdom of building such a giant span in a region that’s prone to earthquakes. In addition, some engineers have given a warning that the area’s huge pylons would be vulnerable to high winds. But the Public Works Minister, Altero Matteoli, insisted that the project would go ahead, with a start as early as this year.
The bridge would be able to handle nearly 5,000 cars an hour as well as high-speed trains, but it would necessitate improvements to the road and rail infrastructure on either side.
The plan was put back on the drawing board following the re-election of Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister last year. He says it will create thousands of jobs, boost tourism and improve transport links between the ‘toe’ of the Italian mainland and Sicily, replacing ferry services.
The dream of building a bridge across the narrow strait was first held by the Romans and later considered by Sicily’s Norman rulers. Firm plans have been around since 1865.
by Andy Moreton
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