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Strait of Messina Bridge

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Projects > Bridges

The Strait of Messina Bridge is a construction project currently underway in the south of Italy. The bridge will replace a ferry system, which was previously used for transportation between Sicily and Calabria. Construction began on December 23, 2009[1] and is expected to conclude sometime in 2016.[2]

At over two miles (3 km) long, upon completion the Strait of Messina Bridge will overtake the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge as the longest suspension bridge in the world[3]. Additionally, the bridge will be the final link in Europe’s road network, allowing people to drive from the south of Italy to Northern Europe by car.

Contents

[edit] Construction History

The idea of bridging the Strait of Messina has been discussed for many years in Italy. In the 1930’s, Benito Mussolini himself considered the possibility, although no work was ever initiated.[4]

In 1981, the Italian Government formed the Stretto di Messina group to oversee bridge construction. Three different types of designs were considered: a floating tunnel, bored tunnel, or suspension bridge. Both tunnel designs were rejected because they were too expensive and risky. On the other hand, there is a great deal of research available on suspension bridges, making construction easier to plan and budget for.[5]

The project received new life in 2001 under newly elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi pushed for the bridge’s construction; however construction was put on hold due to concerns from the Italian public. Critics questioned the usefulness of the bridge. They felt that the existing ferry system was sufficient, and that it would be drastically cheaper to bolster the ferry fleet than it would be to build a new bridge. They also questioned whether it is worth such a large expense given the effected communities are some of the poorest in Italy.

Additionally, there have been concerns about the possible involvment of the Italian mafia in the project. The concern is that the mafia’s involvement in construction could lead to fraud, increased costs, and poor construction standards.[6][7]

Silvio Berlusconi was succeeded by Romano Prodi as Italy’s Prime Minister in May 2006. Prodi was openly opposed to the bridge’s construction during elections, stating it was too expensive, and halted Berlusconi’s efforts once he assumed office.[8]

Two years later, in May 2008, Silvio Berlusconi was re-elected Prime Minister. Following the global financial crisis of late 2008, Berlusconi announced that construction of the Strait of Messina Bridge would commence as part of a make work program organized by the government. The project is expected to create 40,000 jobs at an expense of 6.3 billion Euros.[9] Forty percent of funding for the project will come from public funding, with the remaining 60 percent coming from loans which will be offset by the bridge’s future revenues.[10]

[edit] Unique Facts

  • December 23, 2009 - construction on the Strait of Messina begins
  • Construction is expected to conclude in 2016
  • The bridge is expected to have a lifespan of 200 years
  • The design places great emphasis on aerodynamics; it is built to withstand winds up to 167 miles per hour  (269 km/h)
  • Since the Strait of Messina sits upon active geographic fault lines, it was built to withstand an earthquake measuring up to 7.1 on the Richter scale.

[edit] Bridge

  • Main span: 2 mi (3.3 km)
  • Side spans: 590 ft (180 m)
  • Deck length: 2.5 mi (3.7 km)
  • Bridge width: 196 ft (60 m)

[edit] Towers

  • Tower height: 1,255 ft (382.6 m)
  • Tower height below water: 492 ft (150 m)
  • Weight of towers combined: 100,000 tonnes

[edit] Cables

  • Number of main cables: 4
  • Diameter of each cable: 4.1 ft (1.24 m)
  • Length of each cable: 7,650 ft (2,332 m)
  • Number of wires in each cable: 41,148
  • Total weight of cables: 166,000 tonnes

[edit] References

  1. STRAIT'S BRIDGE: FIRST SITE STARTS TOMORROW WITHOUT CEREMONY. Ansamed.info [December 30, 2009].
  2. Ramsden, J. Critical Analysis of the Proposed Bridge Over The Strait of Messina. Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath. [December 30, 2009].
  3. Bridging the Strait of Messina. Best of Sicily Magazine [December 30, 2009].
  4. [http://www.bath.ac.uk/ace/uploads/StudentProjects/Bridgeconference2009/Papers/RAMSDEN.pdf A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PROPOSED BRIDGE OVER THE STRAIT OF MESSINA
  5. [http://www.bath.ac.uk/ace/uploads/StudentProjects/Bridgeconference2009/Papers/RAMSDEN.pdf A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PROPOSED BRIDGE OVER THE STRAIT OF MESSINA
  6. Italians question Silvio Berlusconi's plan for the world's longest bridge to Sicily. Telegraph.co.uk [December 30, 2009].
  7. Italy to build the world’’s largest suspension bridge (Re-issue). ThaIndian News [December 30, 2009].
  8. Italy to build the world’’s largest suspension bridge (Re-issue). ThaIndian News [December 30, 2009].
  9. Italians question Silvio Berlusconi's plan for the world's longest bridge to Sicily. Telegraph.co.uk [December 30, 2009].
  10. STRAIT'S BRIDGE: FIRST SITE STARTS TOMORROW WITHOUT CEREMONY. Ansamed.info [December 30, 2009].