Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Strait of Messina Bridge

Right now, as it has always been, the only way to get from the "toe" of Italy to Sicily is by boat. There's a booming ferry business between Reggio Calabria and the city of Messina in Sicily, which is at the northeast corner. Even trains go via the ferries. This is how I originally got to Sicily in August, 2004, and it's what anyone traveling by car,bus, or train must do for the quickest way onto the mainland. It's only a twenty-minute ride, but buying tickets, lining up, driving onto the boat, etc., adds another hour, at least, to the total crossing.

Apparently, they've been talking forever about a bridge to span the Strait of Messina, which is what this body of water is called. Guess what? They FINALLY actually awarded the contract and it looks like it's going to happen! For a mere 6 billion Euros, this bridge will be built over a six-year period and is supposed to last 200 years.

There is a truly awesome website that tells everything about the project and even has simulated pictures of what it will look like (like this one).

Here are some of the more interesting facts:

It will be the longest single span suspension bridge in the WORLD at 3,300 meters. More than fifty institutes, companies, and associations were involved in the design of the new bridge. Theoretically, it will be able to handle 6,000 vehicles per hour and 200 trains a day! It will cost a car between 9,50 to 16 Euros for a roundtrip ticket. It's going to create 40,000 new jobs during the construction.

There's been a lot of concern about its safety in a known earthquake zone. Messina was totally destroyed by a quake AND a tsunami in the early 1900's. The old men still talk about their fathers and grandfathers from all over the island going to Messina to help bury the dead. However, this bridge is being built with a seismic resistance of 7.1 on the Richter scale and a wind resistance of more than 200 km/h, given its aerodynamic configuration. It should be open 365 days/year and 24 hours/day. Since this IS Sicily, we shall see about that!

I, for one, am very excited about this prospect. It might be done just about the time I'm ready to retire!


At October 26, 2005 8:35 PM, Blogger La Siciliana said...

I just happen to find your blog through a search, it's really nice and interesting. My grandparents both came through Ellis Island in the early 1900s but at different times, they were both children and they were both from Messina...a trus love story. They met in Syracuse, New York years later and were married. I find the history and contemporary life of Sicily extremelyinteresting and a part of me, although I have yet to travel there...any way, I am adding you to my blog so I can find you and read more of your entries...

At October 30, 2005 12:14 AM, Anonymous Shana said...

Well worth the 6 billion Euro in my opinion!
They'll have to find some creative ways to control the crazy Italian drivers though. Accidents on this bridge could be quite nasty.

At November 07, 2005 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much graft do you think will fill the coffers of the Sicilian mob?


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