[Also see this separate entry on the Messina earthquake.]
*see American House Building In Messina And Reggio: An Account Of The American Naval And Red Cross Combined Expedition (1910) by Reginald Rowen Belknap, pub. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London.to history portal to top of this page
The Strait of Messina Bridge
The Strait of Messina separates the toe of the Italian peninsula from the island of Sicily. It figures very prominently in Italian history. The proposed bridge would be a "single-span suspension bridge ["SSSB"], the world's longest, connecting the cities of Torre Faro and Villa San Giovanni. Such a bridge across the Strait of is certainly not a new idea. Even the ancients talked about it and rejected it for various reasons, primarily technical difficulties. Even the Romans, the mighty tunnel-builders and mountain-flatteners had never heard of an SSSB. If they needed to bridge bodies of water like a bay or lake as in Pozzuoli, near Naples, they used pontoons, small floating boats or barrels tied together and laid with planks to walk over. The Romans did consider building a bridge joining Calabria and Sicily made of boats and barrels. Pliny the Elder, philosopher and Roman military leader born in 23 AD wrote of a plan to bridge the Strait with a series of connecting boats. The idea was abandoned as it was clear that so much ship traffic plowed the Strait that any structure on water could not be permanent. Charlemagne considered it, as did the Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard in the 11th century and then Roger II of Sicily in the 12th century. Later, others proposed either a bridge or a tunnel based on Napoleon's idea of a tunnel under the English Channel.
Today SSSB's are everywhere, many hundreds of them around the world. They're beautiful to look at and serve a purpose. I have only seen a few: the Golden Gate in San Francisco is beautiful. I have been to the site of the infamous Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse and learned something about history and architecture at the same time. Maybe a few others. Yes, the Verrazzano bridge in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. They are, of course, hard to build and expensive. A current plan for the Messina Strait brige proposes:
Total length 3,666 meters (12,028 ft)
Height 382.6 meters (1,255 ft) (pylons)
Longest span 3,300 meters (10,800 ft)
Clearance below 76 metres (249 ft)
Designer Stretto di Messina, Inc.
Construction start 2024
Construction end 2030
estimated cost: 6 billion euros. (Do I mean U.S. billion or Brit billion [6 thousand million]?
I don't know. Does it matter?)
Those specs would make it the longest SSSB in the world, 60% more than the main span of the 1915 Çanakkale
Bridge* in Turkey, the world's current longest span. The idea of building such a magnificent structure entices
politicians, and successive Italian governments have jumped on the floating rubber ducky and said, "Lat's do it."
The 1915 Çanakkale Bridge (Turkish: 1915 Çanakkale Köprüsü), is a road suspension bridge in the province of Çanakkale in northwestern Turkey. Situated just south of the coastal towns of Lapseki and Gelibolu, the bridge spans the Dardanelles, about 10 km (6.2 mi) south of the Sea of Marmara. The bridge was officially opened by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 18 March 2022 after roughly five years of construction. The year "1915" in the official Turkish name honors an important Ottoman naval victory against the navies of the United Kingdom and France during World War I.The first detailed plan was made in the 1990s for a SSSB. The project was cancelled in 2006 under Prime Minister
Romano Prodi. In March 2009, as part of a massive new public works program, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government said that building the Messina Bridge would go ahead, pledging €1.3 billion to the total cost, estimated at €6.1 billion. The project was cancelled again in February 2013, by Prime Minister Mario Monti's government due to budget constraints. A decade later, the project was revived again with a decree by Giorgia Meloni's government in March 2023, which received presidential approval.
Supporters see the bridge as a huge job-creation scheme and a boost for tourism. Opponents question the need for the bridge, claiming that if the government concentrated instead on making Sicilian and Calabrian roads more efficient, drivers would be able to reach the efficient ferry boat service that now crosses the Strait at a fraction of the bridge's cost. Indeed, the first "floating railway" in Italy has provided service across the mythological and infamous waters for over a century. It was designed by Antonio Calabretta, a naval engineer. Two ships were launched in 1896: the Scilla and the Cariddi (Scylla and Charybdis, the two points on opposite sides of the strait, named for characters in Greek mythology; Scylla is on the mainland, Charybdis on Sicily). They were both paddle steamers. They went into regular commercial service in 1899, at first transporting only goods and then in 1901, passengers as well. The ships were identical: 50.5m long; one track that loaded five wagons; capable of 10.5 knots [Ahoy, you scurvy landlubbers! That's 19 kph/12 mph].
===============July 29, 2023============================
So How's that Bridge Coming Along?
Don't Be Scylly, Charybdis is on the Other Side
Successive Italian governments trot this thing out whenever they have to convince you that they are really doing their job (which is to convince you that they are really doing their job). According to an ANSA press release, transport Minister Matteo Salvini has said that the first real cash for the Messina Bridge project will arrive with the 2024 budget bill. Another minister said "The maximum cost is 13 billion and I'm counting on it being well below that". The on-&-off project to build what would be the world's longest single-span suspension bridge has been long delayed amid fears of mafia infiltration and graft, as well as seismic and environmental concerns. The transport ministry also said recently that concerns expressed by Italy's anti-corruption authority that the project poses too many risks for the public purse are "totally unfounded".
====================May 10, 2023================
A Small Good Word for Good Small Bridges
Extravagant grand bridges stroke political egos, but we shouldn't overlook the useful and, indeed, lovely small bridges such as this one: the Royal Ferdinandeo Bridge, the first modern catenary (chain-link) suspension bridge in Italy and one of the earliest in continental Europe. It was built in 1832, barely into the industrial revolution, by the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It is 80 meters long (260 ft). It was advanced for its time, with an iron deck and masonry pylons. A footbridge, it spans the Garigliano river at Minturno in southern Lazio (Latina) 80 km/50 miles up the coast from Naples near Gaeta, joining the region of Lazio to the region of Campania. The engineer who designed it was Luigi Giura. It was strategic enough for the retreating Germans to mine and blow it up on 14 October 1943 as part of their Gustav Line defenses as they retreated towards Rome. It was rebuilt in 1998. photo - Domenico Iannantuoni