World news

will the Messina bridge finally see the light of day?



A suspension bridge to cross the few kilometers that separate Calabria from the north-eastern tip of Sicily, such is the project carried by the new Minister of Infrastructure of Italy, Matteo Salvini. In the wake of his appointment, Friday, October 21, the former leader of the far-right Ligue party expressed his desire to relaunch this long-imagined project but abandoned in 2013.

“The Strait Bridge is one of my goals. If, after 50 years, we start the construction site and the works, it will be a great step forward for engineering in the world”, said Matteo Salvini, highlighting the 100,000 jobs that the project would help create.

Longest suspension bridge in the world

The new minister is putting back on the table an idea put forward by former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi in the 2000s. the longest suspension bridge in the world, was to connect Torre Faro (Sicily) to Villa San Giovani (on the mainland).

Despite the start of the works, the construction of the bridge had been put on hold for the first time in 2006 by the government of Romano Prodi, following numerous administrative entanglements, before being definitively buried after the departure of Berlusconi from power. . More recently, in 2021, Mario Draghi had again raised the idea of ​​developing a direct link between the island and the mainland, without concrete realization.

A centuries-old project

But the dream of connecting Sicily to the continent does not date from the last century. Already in 1876, the statesman Giuseppe Zanardelli (President of the Council from 1901 to 1903) declared that“Above or below the waves, Sicily must be united to the continent”, remind him Corriere della Sera.

The idea of ​​a bridge over the Strait of Messina even goes back, according to some historians, to Roman times. In the 3rd century BC, the consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus would have built a bridge of boats placed end to end between the island and the mainland in order to transport to Rome dozens of elephants captured by the Romans after the defeat of Carthage during the First Punic War.

Environmental impact

If it seduces politicians throughout the ages, the project has also been the subject of several controversies, which have led to its abandonment several times. First criticism: its cost. In 2010, the bill was to amount to 6 billion euros. When announcing the relaunch of the project last week, Matteo Salvini assured that the ferry crossing currently costs more, in one year, than the construction of the bridge.

In addition, the Strait of Messina is located in an area of ​​high seismic risk. In 2021, scientists located a fault in the seabed of the strait, responsible according to them for the earthquake of 1908, the largest seismic disaster of the last century which had caused the death of at least 120,000 people.

The environmental impact of building such a massive infrastructure has also helped fuel opposition to the project. The Strait of Messina represents a wild area with more than 300 species of birds. In 2004, several left-wing parties and environmentalists demonstrated against the start of the work, denouncing the risks to the environment.



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