Mercoledì, 24 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Politicians, activists slam Sicily bridge-plan extension

English
© ANSA

(see related)
Rome, November 1 - Italian politicians and
activists on Thursday slammed a government decision not to
cancel a long-awaited and controversial bridge project aimed at
connecting Sicily to mainland Italy by extending feasibility
tests for another two years.
"It's ludicrous. This is the only way to describe the
government's choice to extend feasibility studies for the
Messina bridge by another two years," said Gianpiero De Toni,
the Italy of Values anti-graft party's chief member in the
Senate public works committee.
"At a time when the country is being strangled by the
economic crisis, when (according to recent studies) some 1,000
companies a day closed down in the first nine months of 2012,
the government keeps throwing money at public works that aside
from being useless, will never be executed".
The decision to keep the project afloat was taken at a
cabinet meeting that went into early hours Thursday in which the
cancellation of the Messina bridge project was evaluated.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called the decision
"unjustifiable when considering it was made by a technical
government".
The building of the bridge "would cost the government 8.5
billion euros, and it would be completely unusable from a
technical point of view, and also it would be built in an area
that is protected for its natural qualities, and closely
monitored by Europe'', the WWF added.
The Messina bridge project is named after the narrow strait
between Sicily and the peninsula.
The planned 8.5-billion-euro suspension bridge was the
brainchild of the ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Edoardo Zanchini, vice-president of environmental group
Legambiente, said the bridge project should have been scrapped.
"The Monti government has taken the wrong decision," he
said. "It is against the interests of the country to carry on
throwing away public funds on a structure that not only is
useless but that is also impossible to build".
The technocrat government of Premier Mario Monti, who
replaced Berlusconi after he was forced to step down during a
peak in the euro crisis last November, has said the project "was
not a priority" given the current economic climate.
"This decision," said a government statement Thursday, "is
motivated by the need to reduce public spending, given the
unfavorable international economic situation".
Supporters hail the bridge as a huge job-creation scheme
that would give Italy's image a major boost while bringing
Sicily closer to the mainland in both physical, psychological
and social terms.
But it has been opposed by environmentalists and dogged by
concerns over its safety and fears of potential Mafia
involvement.
The 3,690-metre-long bridge has been designed to be able to
handle 4,500 cars an hour and 200 trains a day and would replace
slow ferry services between the island and the mainland.

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