It’s finally here, well, again. Freshly appointed conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy has announced, via her first budget since taking office, plans to resuscitate building of a bridge that would connect the island of Sicily with the mainland.
Separated by the Strait of Messina, which has a maximum depth of roughly 250m and at its narrowest point, between Messina’s Torre Faro and the port city of Villa San Giovanni in Calabria, is 3.1km wide, the proposed plan would link the two territories using the world’s longest suspension bridge, running some 3,666 meters in length and 382.6 meters in height, and at a price tag of several billion dollars.
Today, people traveling directly between Sicily and the mainland can only reach the other end by ferry or airplane.
Arguments for the positive impact of the bridge include a boost in tourism, job creation, and quicker and convenient access by train and car.
The Bridge has Been Proposed Before
Though the new bridge has received unanimous support, it isn’t the first-time plans for conjoining the regions have been propositioned.
In fact, the Romans once considered developing a Strait of Messina bridge, made of boats and barrels, centuries ago.
As of recent, a 2006 plan was pitched for a single-span suspension bridge, but the idea was abandoned due to costs, profitability, and even fear of enriching local crime organizations like Cosa Nostra.
In 2013, another year’s long plan was scrapped by former Italian Premier Mario Monti, also due to lack of necessary funding.
What’s more, critics have long argued that the bridge may not be worth the efforts due to the challenge of designing a structure capable of withstanding strong winds and seismic activity in the area.
Plus, the Strait of Messina is home to a rich biodiversity and serves an important stopping point for migratory birds looking to reach northern Europe’s breeding grounds. Environmentalists fear that the bridge may have negative impact the local ecosystem.
Optimism About the Bridge
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s recently nominated infrastructure minister, remains optimistic about the bridge’s advantages and their government’s ability to move forward with the project.
“We have been talking about crossing the Strait of Messina for decades, and since 1981, hundreds of millions of euros have been spent without having achieved anything,” he emphasized. “We finally intend to move from words to deeds.”
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her cabinet will request that the extensive project be partly financed by the European Union.
Salvini will discuss further details about the project on Dec. 5th in Brussels.