MARITIME JOURNAL – €12 billion earmarked for world’s longest suspension bridge.

A bridge between Sicily and the Italian mainland looks like it will finally be built after being dreamed of since the Roman era.

The bridge idea was conceived decades ago, but for financial and political reasons it was shelved.

Source: Webuild Group How the world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting Sicily with mainland Italy, will look on completion in about six years’ time.

In fact, according to a report by the US Library of Congress (LOC), in 252 BC the dream to connect the two land masses was realised with a ‘moving bridge’ across the Straits of Messina. It was made of barrels and wood and built to transport war elephants from Carthage to Rome, the LOC says.

The 21st century bridge would span the Straits of Messina between the Port of Messina on Sicily and Calabria, in the ‘toe’ of Italy.

The bridge will be km long, with the central span of 3.3km a world record span, far longer than the current record holder, the Canakkale Bridge in Turkey, which has a central span of just over 2km.

The Webuild Group, which will carry out the works, says it can begin as soon as its design is approved, and will take around six years to build.

Webuild says the surface of the bridge (deck) will be 61 metres wide, and at each end the towers would be almost 400 metres high. The suspension system will consist of two pairs of 1.26m diameter cables that stretch 5.320 metres between the anchor blocks.

Three vehicle lanes in each direction will be put in plus a railway track, which will see an estimated six million vehicles crossing each year and 60,000 trains.

There has been controversy over the Messina Bridge because it is in an earthquake zone, with a quake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale being recorded in 1908.

However Webuild says it will be able to withstand tremors of up to 7.5.

It will also be safe in high winds, the company says.

“The deck’s aerodynamic stability, known as the Messina Type Deck, would resist winds of up to 300km per hour,” the company says. “This type of deck has been studied and tested independently by the most authoritative research centres and international laboratories, using various physical models in wind tunnels (Italy, England, Canada, Germany and Denmark). The concept behind a ‘semi-transparent’ aerodynamic deck, studied for Messina, has already been applied to the world’s longest bridges.

“The structure would allow vehicle traffic during winds of up to 158km per hour, while the tests that have been conducted would allow for trains passing at 120km per hour with winds blowing by up to 150km per hour, and at 60km per hour with winds at up to 190km per hour.”

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