The new Italian government under President of the Council of Ministers Giorgia Meloni and her Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party has resurrected a long-dead monumental initiative to create a giant bridge connecting mainland Italy and Sicily, a dream among Italians since the days of the Roman Empire.
The bridge was in the planning stages as of 2013 before being scrapped by former Prime Minister Mario Monti according to Reuters. Amidst efforts to reduce government spending. Monti shut down the company created by the Italian government to oversee the bridge’s construction.
According to Futurology, the bridge is estimated to cost $7 billion and take six years to construct and a service life of 200 years with four traffic lanes, two railway tracks, and two pedestrian lanes.
In one of the first acts of Giorgia Meloni’s government since winning a contentious election against her left-leaning opposition, the Prime Minister released a budget that reinstated the company with the objective of creating a land connection to Sicily.
Incoming Minister of Infrastructure Matteo Salvini told reporters, “This is the government and legislature that have the ambition to lay the first stone and start building this blessed project,” Reuters reported.
The span is envisioned to extend across the Strait of Messina approximately between the Sicilian town of Ganzirri and Villa San Giovanni on mainland Italy.
A 2021 study cited by The Guardian found a seismic fault in the seabed of the Messina Strait, responsible for a 1908 earthquake that devastated the area and claimed 120,000 lives. But Salvini is undeterred, “We have been talking about crossing the Strait of Messina for decades, and, since 1981, hundreds of millions of euros have been spent without having achieved anything,” he said.
Adding, “We finally intend to move from words to deeds.”
“Over the next five years, starting work on the construction of the Strait Bridge is one of my goals,” said Salvini. “The transshipment of ferries, in addition to pollution and waste of time, costs people more in a year than it would cost to build the bridge.”
Salvini told the press that the bridge’s construction would create some 100,000 new jobs.
The UK publication noted that 2,000 years after the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder described a temporary bridge of sorts made of boats and barrels to transport 140 Carthaginian War Elephants captured in 251BC, the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini dreamt of another bridge project.
Following the downfall of fascist Italy in World War II the idea languished until it was picked up by Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government in the 1990s. Three-time Prime Minister Berlusconi was even successful in getting some funding from the European Union to the tune of about 6 Billion Euros in the early 2000s, but an election loss in 2011 to Romano Prodi halted the project.
Berlusconi, now an Italian Senator and leader of the Forza Italia party at 86 years old still supports the bridge plan, “The bridge remains my priority,” he told The Guardian.