Record-breaking bridge awaits green light

Construction of the world’s longest suspension bridge could begin this year after the final design was recently approved by the state-owned project sponsor.

When built, the 3300-metre long bridge would span the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and the mainland of Italy. The deck would be 61 metres-wide and the two towers on the shores are set to be 399 metres-high.

Project sponsor Stretto di Messina SpA has approved the design submitted by the project’s consortium, led by construction contractor Webuild SpA. The consortium includes Sacyr, Condotte d’Acqua, CMC, IHI and Consorzio ACI. Denmark’s Cowi A/S, with designers Dissing+Weitling A/S.

The bridge’s suspension system consists of two pairs of cables, each 1.26 metres in diameter that stretch for 5320 metres between the anchor blocks. There will be three vehicle lanes in each direction with a central lane for rail.

Ground could be broken immediately, meaning construction could start in the coming months. Once the detailed design has been approved, the bridge could be built in a mere six years,” Webuild stated.

According to Webuild, the bridge deck’s aerodynamic stability could resist winds of up to 300 kph and withstand up to 7.5 magnitude earthquakes. The cost of the project is estimated at 4.5 billion euro and will require a workforce of about 4300 people.

But plans to build the crossing have been delayed through changes of Italy’s government in 2005, 2008 and 2011, and it is the 2011 design with some modifications that has again been approved. The consortium hopes to get the green light from the country’s Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning and Sustainable Development by the middle of this year.

Image: Stretto di Messina

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.