Messina bridge put ‘on hold'

24 April 2008

Construction of the messina bridge, between mainland Italy and Sicily, has been removed from the Italian Government’s priority national construction projects list. The downgrading of the scheme means that it is no longer eligible for government funding, casting doubt on whether construction will go ahead.

The project was one of 19, including the Venice flood barrier, which have been put on hold by Italy’s coalition government in a bid to save money and meet Prime Minister Ramano Prodi’s election promises on healthcare investment. According to an official statement, the costs on the other schemes have soared from € 126 billion in 2001 to € 173 billion in 2006.

Italy’s Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi has described the € 388 billion Messina project as “the most useless and damaging project in Italy in the past 100 years and said that work on the bridge has been frozen.

The contract for the design and construction of the 3,3 km Messina Bridge was awarded to a consortium led by Italy-based Impregilo in October last year. It is unclear whether the project will be officially cancelled and, if so, what compensation the consortium will be entitled to.

According to the project’s state-owned client, Stretto di Messina, the consortium would have been eligible to claim 10% of the construction costs if work on site had already started. But the contractor had not yet reached the construction phase and was working on detailed designs for the bridge.

Impregilo has not yet commented on the government’s downgrading of the project but a spokeswoman for Stretto di Messina suggested that the company may be offered other infrastructure work to the same value.

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