The Italian government has long been wanting to build a bridge between Messina and the Italian mainland. Now it is determined to complete it, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini told his EU counterparts in Brussels on Monday.
The bridge was long a pet project of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi but never really got off the ground amid earthquake and environmental warnings and in on-and-off developments, although a now-defunct strait bridge company was set up which Salvini has moved to reactivate. Salvini said: “I stress to my colleagues that the current government after 54 years of failed efforts has every intention of having a stable connection between Sicily and Calabria, between Italy and Europe, for the completion of that Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor that, with “the Bridge connecting Messina and Reggio, Sicily and Calabria, would have the missing link of which (Transport) Commissioner Adina-Ioana Valean spoke”.
The Messina bridge project is named after the narrow strait between Sicily and the peninsula. The planned and initially costed 8.5-billion-euro suspension bridge – the world’s longest – was the brainchild and long a hobby horse of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The project has been opposed by environmentalists and dogged by concerns over its safety and fears of potential Mafia involvement.
When and if completed, the bridge would replace slow ferry services between Sicily and the mainland. The 3,690-metre-long bridge has been designed to handle 4,500 cars an hour and 200 trains a day.
Work on the 6.5-billion-euro structure was originally scheduled to start in late 2006 and end in 2012. Current estimates are for getting construction started in mid-2025 and completing the bridge in 2030, according to what Salvini has said after reviving the c. Salvini has stressed that Commissioner Valean has “opened up” to the possibility of EU funds being used to finance muc of the project.
Salvini added after the EU ministerial meet in Brussels Monday: “There is an infrastructure that does not just unite Sicily and Calabria but joins Italy to Northern Europe, the bridge over the Strait of Messina is a priority for me, for the government and for millions of Italians, it is of extreme interest to the European Commission and many colleagues from other countries. “After fifty years of words, many conferences and several million spent we have every intention of moving forward”.