Bridge over the Strait of Messina: ten things to know about the project that (perhaps) will take place

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The Council of Ministers has given the go-ahead by decree to the bridge over the Strait of Messina. The project was given the green light «subject to agreements», therefore with the possibility of improvements. The Minister of Infrastructure Matthew Salvini speaks of a historic day because: “after fifty years of talk, this Council of Ministers approves the single span bridge” which unites “Sicily to Italy and the rest of Europe”. The minister defines it as the “greenest building in the world”.


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The official project is not yet available, but, according to Salvini, it will be the bridge «cable-stayed», i.e. supported by cables, longest in the world. It will have a single span for cars and trains: two pylons, one in Sicily and one in Calabria. The length is known: the approximately 3.2 kilometers between Villa San Giovanni and Messina, but not with departure and arrival in the two cities. The two pylons would be in Ganzilli and Cannitello, at the narrowest point of the strait. It starts again from the final project of 2012 which will be adapted to the new technical, safety and environmental standards.


The connection between the peninsula and Sicily has been talked about since ancient times. Pliny the Elder tells of a pontoon bridge and barrels. THE Bourbons they thought about it and after the unification of Italy it was discussed in every legislature. The honorable Giuseppe Zanardelli, in 1876, said: «Above the waves or below the waves, Sicily is united to the Continent». Most of the projects are from the post-war period and there is an international ideas competition from 1969.

Suspended bridge

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The suspension bridge project is made up of 8,000 documents. It is the most full-bodied because it is the most studied over the years. It is also the one with the most advanced documentation in terms of environmental impact, seismic resistance (given the territory in which it is located), costs (300 million have already been spent) and feasibility. The bridge would have 6 carriageways, three in each direction, for cars, with two railway tracks in the centre.


The new decree revives the bridge company on the Straits spa established in 1971. This company will be attended by «Rete Ferroviaria Italiana spa, Anas spa., the Regions of Sicily and Calabria, as well as, to an extent of no less than 51%, the Ministry of the Economy and of Finance, which exercises the shareholder’s rights in agreement with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, to which the latter is assigned functions of direction, control, technical and operational supervision».


7 billion, that’s how much the bridge over the Strait of Messina could cost. Where does the money come from? In recent days, Salvini has also discussed it with the European Investment Bank. Difficult to use Pnrr funds if you use the existing company that has been in liquidation for 10 years. Between Messina and Reggio Calabria pass 10 million people a year. There are 1.4 million cars and 800,000 heavy vehicles.


The bridge “it would create 150,000 jobs” according to Salvini. Edoardo Rixi, Northern League deputy minister, speaks of a five-year period: «We will start again from the authorizations already obtained in 2012 relating to railway and road connections. We will bring the plan for that work back to life, updating it, so as to be able to make a faster construction site». The executive project is expected by 31 July 2024 to then start with the works.

Strait of Messina

Environmental compatibility

The final project must comply with the sustainability criteria required by the European Union. The environmental associations remain against it: for the WWF the bridge is a bankruptcy work from the «very high and unsustainable environmental, social and economic-financial costs».

Wind and earthquakes

The project will have to take into account the high seismicity of the area. Only last year was the fault that caused the Messina earthquake of 28 December 1908 identified in the seabed between Sicily and Calabria. causing 120,000 deaths: it is about 3 kilometers from the coasts of Sicily and then, at the latitude of Messina, curve to the east going to Calabria. The fault is capable of triggering earthquakes of magnitude 6.9. The flexible structure could then have problems on strong windy days.

The strangest hypotheses

The project of a tunnel under the Strait of Messina was presented in June 2017 by the engineer Giovanni Saccà and followed by the Sicilian deputy minister of the M5S, Giancarlo Cancelleri. It was September 2020 when the hypothesis of the cycle path ended up on the tables of the then government. The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Paola De Micheli tweeted: «We have set up a commission to understand which is the best tool to connect Sicily to Calabria. To connect them by rail, by road and with a cycle path. The work that will come must be safe and economically sustainable». Fabio De Luigi played engineer Cane for years who also had the stuffed animal among the materials to be used to build the bridge. The imitation played precisely on the chronicle of the various hypotheses which over the years have become not only unrealized, but also unrealizable for public opinion.

Political reactions

«The bridge over the Strait of Messina restarts: it is a concrete project, which represents the idea of ​​the future that we have always had», he wrote Silvio Berlusconi«Already 20 years ago with my government we had the project ready, a strategic work that would have been realized if the left hadn’t intervened with the no policy. They won’t stop us this time.” Peppe Provenzano, vice president of the deputies of the Democratic Party, speaks on Twitter of “an imaginary bridge (and subject to agreements) to pass the differentiated autonomy that shatters Italy and sinks the South”.

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Source: Vanity Fair

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