Construction of the long-stalled suspension bridge between Sicily and mainland Italy could start this year following the recent ratification of the design supplied by the original turnkey contractor. At 3,300 m, or more than 10,800 ft, the bridge would break the world span record if construction were to go ahead.

“After the many other ‘Messina Style’ bridges built worldwide, it is now time to build the one over the Strait of Messina,” according to Pietro Ciucci, CEO of the state-owned project sponsor Stretto di Messina SpA (SdM).

With three vehicle lanes in each direction and a central one for a rail, the deck would provide a 1,970-ft-wide navigation channel with 215 ft of headroom. The aerodynamic profile is designed to withstand 180-mph winds and also survive 7.1-magnitude earthquakes.

The bridge is estimated to cost around $5 billion and take some seven years to build. SdM estimates a required workforce of around 4,300 people.

This not the first time SdM has launched the politically controversial project, which was promoted by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. SdM in 2005 signed a turnkey contract with the Eurolink consortium. 

But the project was shelved by a new government in 2006 and revived when Berlusconi returned to power two years later. When the design was approved in 2011, the whole scheme went back on ice to be thawed again last year by another government.

It is that 2011 design, with modifications, that has again been approved. Various official bodies will now review the scheme while SdM establishes a financing plan. The company hopes to secure the go-ahead from the Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning and Sustainable Development by midyear.

Eurolink has remained close to the project through the process. Led by Webuild SpA, the consortium includes, Sacyr, Condotte d’Acqua, CMC, IHI and Consorzio ACI. Denmark’s Cowi A/S with Dissing+Weitling A/S are the team's designers.

Preparing for construction, last year Webuild appointed Gianni De Gennaro as Eurolink’s chair. He has held senior posts in the police and security and chaired the state-controlled Leonardo SpA aerospace and defense conglomerate. 

In a statement, Webuild noted De Gennaro’s “institutional and corporate experience, as well as his unwavering commitment to integrity, transparency, and advancements in security and law.”