Italy plans bridge to Sicily

Italy plans bridge to Sicily

Nfter decades of planning disputes, construction of a bridge over the Strait of Messina is to begin in 2024. The cabinet in Rome passed a corresponding draft law on Thursday evening. According to this, the “urgent measures for the construction of a stable connection between Sicily and Calabria” are to be taken in the coming year.

Matthias Rub

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

The two chambers of Parliament now have two months to give the decree the force of law. Because the parties of the centre-right coalition under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni have stable majorities in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, approval is considered likely.

Ferry or plane are the previous options

So far you can reach the island Sicily from the Italian mainland only by plane and by ferry between Villa San Giovanni near Reggio Calabria and Messina in Sicily. In the past, several governments had considered building a bridge across the strait between the southern Italian region of Calabria and Italy’s largest island, but the plans failed to materialize.

Most recently, the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi presented a corresponding plan shortly after the turn of the millennium, but was unable to assert itself against the criticism of environmentalists and against the warnings of a possible earthquake in the seismically active region.

Critics also describe the new plans as a “waste of resources” and warn of the “extremely high ecological and financial costs”. With a length of about 3.2 kilometers, the bridge would be one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world.

Transport Minister Matteo Salvini from the right-wing national party Lega spoke after the cabinet decision of a “historic day not only for Calabria and Sicily, but for all of Italy”. Silvio Berlusconi, party leader of the Christian Democratic party Forza, assured in view of his own failure a good two decades ago: “This time they will not stop us.”

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