Italy relaunches controversial bridge project to connect Sicily to mainland

The cabinet of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Thursday adopted a decree relaunching a controversial project to build a bridge linking Sicily to the mainland, an investment of several billion euros.

Meloni’s right-wing coalition sees the bridge as key to boosting Italy’s influence in the region and reviving the economy in the south, the country’s poorest region, despite doubts about its structural viability, environmental impact and its cost.

The 3.2 kilometer long bridge “will represent the crowning glory of Italian engineering,” said Transport Minister Matteo Salvini.

seismic zone

The idea of ​​such a bridge dates back to the Roman Empire but modern attempts to launch the project have repeatedly failed due to the great expense of a bridge linking Messina to Reggio Calabria in an earthquake-prone area. .

This project, whose latest plans date back to 2011, would be “adapted to new technical, safety and environmental standards”, assured Salvini.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose government strongly backed the project in the 2000s, said on Thursday that such a work “would connect Sicily not just to Calabria, but to Italy and all of Europe. “.

Construction could start in mid-2024, Berlusconi said.

Currently, the only way to cross the island to the mainland is by ferry or plane, and supporters of the bridge say the bridge would reduce pollution and save time transporting people and goods.

Critics of the project say, however, that the money would be much better spent improving the pitiful rail and road services in Sicily and Calabria.

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