Will Sicily finally be connected to mainland Italy?

Talk of building a bridge linking Sicily to the mainland is back on the Italian political agenda as Italy’s new right-wing government says it wants to revive construction plans.

1. Old project

Newly elected Prime Minister Georgia Meloni has announced that she will ask the European Union (EU) to help fund the multibillion-euro project. Today, Sicily can only be reached by plane, boat, or train, which ferries from mainland Italy to the island. The proposed road and rail link will have a central road of more than 3 km and will be the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The idea of ​​linking Sicily to mainland Italy dates back to Roman times and was a controversial topic under the dictator Benito Mussolini and then in the early 2000s under the government of Silvio Berlusconi, who also tried to get funding from Italy. EU.

In 2009, the construction contract was awarded to the Messina Pipeline Company. The proposed rail and road link was to connect the Sicilian city of Messina with the mainland province of Calabria. But the plan was scrapped in 2013 after former prime minister Mario Monti shut down the construction company through a series of austerity cuts.

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2. Different opinions

Plans to build a suspension bridge between Sicily and the mainland have divided policymakers. Advocates say it will bring economic benefits to the region, saying the link will boost the island’s stagnant economy and help narrow the gap between the north and south.

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Proponents say it would allow cargo ships coming down the Suez Canal to be transported to trains in Sicily, thereby becoming a vital point of contact. Such a bridge would allow them to quickly transport them to the north of the country and save money on long sea journeys. Rail and road connections will ease the burden on overcrowded ferries across the Straits of Messina.

However, critics say the giant bridge would be a waste of public money and a risky undertaking in a seismically active area. In addition, environmental experts warn that it poses a risk to the local ecosystem and causes aesthetic damage to the landscape.

3. Convince Brussels

In his first budget since becoming prime minister last month, Meloni revived the Messina Pipeline Company, the company responsible for building the Messina Strait Suspension Bridge.

It is the ambitious Government and Legislature that will lay the foundation stone of this blessed project and start the development.

Matteo Salvini, Italian Minister of Infrastructure and leader of the League coalition

Salvini said he would discuss the project in Brussels on December 5.

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If the project takes off, construction would begin in two years and take about five years, he added.

“One of my goals is to start the construction of the pipeline bridge,” Salvini told Italian broadcaster RAI last month. “In addition to pollution and lost time, transferring ferries costs people more in a year than building a bridge.”



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