Construction of the 3.7km bridge will come with an estimated pricetag of €10 billion. A suspension bridge will be used as this will best cope with the earthquakes that occur in South Italy. If constructed, it will feature the longest central span of any suspension bridge ever built, so the project will face major technical challenges. The towers may have to be up to 300m high to support the structure and the strong tidal flow results in heavy scour, so these will have to be located out of the main channel, resulting in the need for the long central span.
The project is being put forward by the Italian Government and is intended to provide a much-needed boost to Italy’s economically-depressed Calabria region as well as the island of Sicily. Tourism and trade would both receive major boosts from the project.
The aim is for construction to commence in mid-2024. The proposed design features three traffic lanes in either direction as well as two rail lines, with an estimated traffic load of 6,000 vehicles/day and 200 trains/day. An important feature of the project is that it is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by replacing the current ferry service that connects Calabria and Sicily.
However, given the previous record of proposals for a bridge that have stalled, Italians are somewhat cynical about this latest proposal. Plans to bridge the Messina Strait have been discussed for 2,000 years, with a Roman Emperor first suggesting a pontoon structure and then in the 11th century, Emperor Charlemagne also proposing a stone bridge. Since the early 19th century, the pace of proposed bridge crossings has increased. And two previous proposals in the last 20 years have come to nothing.