Italy’s Messina Strait bridge design approved

The design has been approved for Italy’s Messina Strait bridge mega project.
Road Structures / February 21, 2024 1 minute Read
By MJ Woof
The design for Italy’s Messina Strait Bridge has been approved – image courtesy of © Nata_rass|

The design has now been approved for the Messina Strait mega project, which link the island of Sicily with the Italian mainland. Carrying both road and rail links, the new suspension bridge is expected to cost as much as €13.5 billion. It will provide a direct link between Sicily and the Calabria, providing a much-needed economic boost for two of Italy’s poorest areas and replacing the current ferries.

The design will be for a suspension bridge, which will be able to cope with the earthquakes that occur in the region. However, this will be a record-breaking structure in many respects. It will require the highest support towers, as well as featuring the longest central span, for any suspension bridge yet built. The wide span is required due to the strong water flow through the channel.

It is around 2,000 years since the first proposal for a bridge across the Messina Strait was suggested. This Roman structure would have been a floating pontoon type resting on barrels linked together but it is unclear if it was ever built. Numerous other designs have been proposed and rejected through the centuries, increasing in pace as construction technology has improved.

A suspension bridge was suggested in 1990 and was discussed for some time but this was cancelled on grounds of cost in 2006. The project was revived in 2009 and then cancelled in 2013, again on grounds of cost. There has been some scepticism in Italy over the project given its enormous cost, the challenges in building such a record-breaking structure and the fact that it has been proposed and cancelled twice in recent decades.

Meanwhile, the Calabria Region will receive a further boost for its transport infrastructure with €622.4 million being provided by the Development and Cohesion Fund 2021-2027. Of this, €388 million will be for road works and €140.4 million for urban mobility projects, while €90.5 million will be for maritime transport.