Berlusconi’s Big Bridge

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Despite protests from environmentalists and cries of seismic instability, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has resurrected plans to build the world’s longest suspension bridge across the Straits of Messina. If completed, the 10,000 foot bridge (rendering above) would link the southern tip of the Italian mainland with the island of Sicily. It’s a dream that’s floated around since the time of ancient Rome — prevented from coming to fruition by high costs and numerous technical challenges.

But like the media pro he is, Berlusconi says the bridge’s cost — estimated at some $7.5 billion — would actually come into good use right now, revitalizing the heavily-hit economies in the region. Opponents are not so sanguine — openly worrying that the cash would wind up lining the pockets of the area’s notorious Mafioso clans.

Either way, the biggest challenge to the project isn’t the Cosa Nostra, but mother nature. It appears as if southern Italy and eastern Siciliy are techtonically incompatible — shifting in inconsistent directions and at inconsistent paces each year. Add in high winds and the potential for powerful earthquakes and the dream of completing the bridge may likely remain just that — a dream!

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