costs and benefits Bridge over the Bosphorus, environmental risks but faster transport: pros and cons of the business Meloni government is aiming for this, Matteo Salvini wants to make it a flag: but it’s clear what are the pros and cons of a bridge Is Messina over the Bosphorus? what do we know so far

The Meloni government wants to build the bridge over the Strait of Messina, and Matteo Salvini, as Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, is keen to sign the job. The idea of ​​a stable transition between Sicily and Calabria cyclically came back into vogue, but since the government led by Giorgia Meloni took office, the bridge over the Bosphorus has permanently entered public debate, also thanks to the reopening of Minister Salvini. sponsors its construction. The Ponte edict has become law, but there are still a few steps to be taken before the first stone can be laid, starting with how much it will cost. In addition, there are several questions that remain unanswered regarding the pros and cons, for example: What are the risks and benefits of a bridge over the Strait of Messina?

which bridge project

The Messina Strait Bridge reference design was made in 2011 by the Eurolink consortium. It is a suspension bridge with a total length of 3,666 meters and a width of more than 60.4 meters, with two pairs of towers, approximately 400 meters high, to be located in Sicily and Calabria, with two pairs of cable suspension systems: it will be the longest. suspension bridge in the world.

The central channel of the bridge will be open to the passage of ships up to 65 meters. There will be 6 road lanes, 3 lanes for each direction (fast, normal, emergency) and 2 railway lines that can carry 6,000 vehicles per hour and 200 trains per day. Along with the infrastructure, various connection works will emerge between the existing road network and road and railway connections.

However, the project will need to be updated under various profiles, such as compliance with the latest technical construction and design standards and the technological evolution of building materials. Additionally, several permits are missing, particularly on the environment and landscape side: in fact, the latest project does not have the Ministry of Environment’s view for environmental impact assessment (VIA); Build any infrastructure in Italy.

Environmental impact of a bridge over the Bosphorus

The 2011 project received few approvals outside the Ministry of the Environment. In fact, to complete the preliminary research, the environmental compatibility assessment on parts of the final project relative to the preliminary project was missing. In the environmental assessment portal of the Ministry of Environment, the opinion is classified as “Environmental compatibility variants cannot be expressed”.

There are various doubts about the environmental impact of a bridge over the Strait of Messina, and it has been repeatedly highlighted by environmental associations. In the same 2011 project, some ecological criticalities were identified along with related interventions to reduce their impact on the surrounding environment. For example, noise reduction from the construction of the work is being considered so as not to affect the reproduction of local fauna or reduce the risk of material spilling into rivers.

Environmental impact of the bridge over the Strait of Messina: Project risks for the surrounding ecosystem

The bridge’s area of ​​interest is sensitive to naturalism. There are two Specially Protected Areas and eleven Special Protection Areas in the environment, reflecting a high concentration of sensitive ecosystems, biodiversity, and areas suitable for the passage of animals, both at sea and in the air.

Earthquake risk in the Strait of Messina

In the report of the working group, it is evaluated that the area where the Bosphorus bridge should be built is open to “seismic risk and possible underwater landslides” as well as tsunamis that may result from “earthquakes, explosions and landslides”. He is wanted by the Draghi government on the Bosphorus bridge in connection with the matter.

Earthquake risk in the area where a bridge should be built over the Bosphorus: As can be seen from the Sicily and Calabria Civil Protection map, the danger level is maximum.

The design predicts 7.1 magnitude earthquake resistance on the Richter scale, with a stable “third generation” aerodynamic deck at wind speeds of up to 270 km/h. According to the latest seismic classification of the Department of Civil Protection, southern Calabria and eastern Sicily are part of the 1st seismic zone with the greatest danger.

Faster and “cleaner” transport, but how much?

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport claims that the bridge over the Strait of Messina will “make it possible to reduce the total travel times for rail journeys by over 50% and by around 70%, together with planned interventions by Pnrr into transport networks”. % % for road travel”. In addition to the shorter journey times, there is also the issue of emissions: According to Salvini’s Ministry, the bridge will allow a “substantial” reduction in pollution due to fewer ferry trips.

According to the data of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the following passes through the Strait of Messina every year:

  • 10 million passengers;
  • About 1.8 million cars;
  • About 800,000 heavy vehicles (trucks);
  • 60 thousand railway wagons.

With the existing services, it is possible to cross the Bosphorus with a 20-30 minute navigation without counting the entrance, waiting and exit to the transportation terminals. The situation of trains passing through the Bosphorus is different, sometimes they are disassembled and then reassembled, sending the convoys in different directions: in this case, the transit times reach two hours for people transport and even four hours for trains’ cargo. The Draghi government has invested over half a billion euros – including those from Pnrr – to halve the journey times of new ferries and trains with electric and diesel hybrid engines.

Travel times for trains to the Strait of Messina: about an hour for passenger trains, as you can see from the picture

The impact estimates provided by Salvini’s ministry do not seem very robust and are based on the assumption that the bridge can replace all passenger traffic by ferries. It is true that ferries are considered a polluting mode of transport, but at the same time to argue that the bridge will no longer be used due to its existence seems an ideal and unlikely scenario: some passengers may continue to prefer ships because of the fact. convenience or cost of the route.

The Draghi government has already intervened to improve the environmental sustainability of the ferries and the speed of embarkation and disembarkation operations, spending just over €500 million: much more will be needed to build the bridge.

unknown cost

It is unclear how much the bridge over the Strait of Messina will cost. Estimated costs have been rising for decades: in 2001 a CIPE decision estimated them at 5 billion, then increased to 6.3 billion by the Court of Accounts in 2011 and reached 8.5 billion in 2012.

The latest Economic and Financial Document (Def), approved by the Meloni government, predicts that 14.6 billion euros will be needed for work, with 13.5 for bridge and 1.1 for railway works. To these, it is necessary to add the road works that Enes will pay, but whose amount is unknown.

Estimated costs are likely to rise again for the same reasons that have risen in recent years: regulatory compliance, new technologies, increase in raw material prices. Additionally, it’s not clear what the financial scope will be: at Def, the Meloni government has already admitted that they don’t exist until now. Therefore, the issue has been postponed to the next budget law, which awaits more detailed information and up-to-date and complete feasibility studies in all aspects.

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Source: Today IT