Bridge would span 3.7-kilometer Messina Strait.

Italy's $5-billion, 3.7-kilometer-long Messina Strait bridge will not be built, if the new national government's environment minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio gets his way. A final design/build contract was signed this March after many years of planning. If built, the project would include the world longest suspended span, at 3.3 km.

Minister Scanio reportedly vowed to divert the bridge's funding to rail construction on the mainland. Scanio, leader of Italy's Green Party, is part of the fragile new government coalition of Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who recently narrowly beat Silvio Berlusconi in national elections.

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  • Government-owned project developer Stretto di Messina S.p.A is now waiting to hear the formal government view. "The decision has to be taken with all the ministers involved," says company spokeswoman Manuela Zucchini. In case of cancellation, the construction joint venture would be compensated for bidding and design costs to date, she adds.

    A consortium led by Milan-based Impregilo S.p.A. signed a contract to develop the system's design over 10 months. It would then build the bridge and linked railroad during the next five years. The consortium, which also includes Japan's Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., is using engineers from Denmark's Cowi A/S and Sund & Baelt A/S, and Buckland & Taylor Ltd., Canada, to design the project.