The Bridge over the Strait of Messina, Italy


The Strait of Messina Bridge is a project intended to create a 3.300 m bridge across the Strait of Messina, to link Sicily with Calabria, the southern tip of mainland Italy. The bridge would be the largest suspension bridge in the world, with both road and rail sections and would be part of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) line connecting Central and Southern Europe. The bridge project has been met by increasing opposition by the "No Ponte" movement, initially constituted by local citizens and now expanded and networked with other national movement against big infrastructures.

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Basic Data
NameThe Bridge over the Strait of Messina, Italy
ProvinceProvince of Messina and Province of Reggio Calabria
SiteMessina and Cannitello hamlet of Villa San Giovanni
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific Commoditiestransport services
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsEurolink is the General Contractor Company entrusted by Società Stretto di Messina to design and construct the Strait of Messina Bridge. The project has no equals worldwide for its technical complexity.

Eurolink gathers some major international companies in the field of large construction and heavy engineering works, and it is headed by Impregilo, the most important Italian construction company.

The project to build the longest suspension bridge in the world consists in a single-span suspension bridge with a central span of 3,300 m and 60 m wide. Two 399 m pillars located on the banks would support the bridge. Plans called for six traffic lanes catering for 6,000 vehicles per hour (two driving lanes and one emergency lane in each direction), two railway tracks for up to 200 trains a day and two pedestrian lanes. The bridge's suspension system would have relied on two pairs of steel cables, each with a diameter of 1.26 m and a total length, between the anchor blocks, of 5,320 m. [3]
Project Area (in hectares)80
Level of Investment (in USD)11,577,000,000 USD [8,500,000,000 billion €]
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population256,250 [population of Messina in Sicily and Villa San Giovanni in Calabria]
Start Date2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesStretto di Messina S.p.A from Italy
Eurolink S.C.p.A. from Italy - General Contractor
Società Italiana per Condotte d’Acqua S.p.a. from Italy
Cooperativa Muratori & Cementisti (Gruppo CMC) from Italy
Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries Co Ltd from Japan
Argo Costruzioni Infrastrutture Consorzio Stabile S.c.p.A. (ACI Scpa) from Italy
Sacyr from Spain
Relevant government actorsProvince of Reggio Calabria, Municipalities of Messina and Villa San Giovanni, Sicily Region, Calabria Region, Italian government, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure,
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersRete No ponte; WWF, Legambiente, Italia Nostra, LIPU, FAI
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
In summer 2002, 2003 and 2004 the No Ponte movement organized one week camping on the Strait shores attended by local committees, national and European organizations and civil society. In the years protests have spread in the two regions involved in the project and in the whole country.
Land occupation
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Other Health impacts
OtherRegarding the danger of accidents and/or deaths should be noted that concerns regard the technical feasibility of the bridge and its resistance to earthquakes. The area is one of the highly affected by seismic and geological activities in the central Mediterranean. [2]
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Possible payment of penalties to the companies due to project cancellation
Development of AlternativesThe project is considered unsustainable and not a priority. The No Ponte movement claims that both regions need to invest in existing and often unfinished transport infrastructure (roads, highways, railroads, etc..). Those infrastructures are fundamental for the mobility within regions and to facilitate connections with the regions of central and north Italy.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project has been cancelled due to doubts on the technical feasibility and because of the lack of funds. The No Ponte movement has grown over the years and was able to put pressure at institutional level for the cancellation of the project. The conflict remains open with regard to the payment of penalties to constructors. The No ponte movement and other supporters of the mobilization expressed their strong opposition to the payment of penalties charged to the Italian state.
Sources and Materials

Legge di Stabilità 2013
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La ricerca non ha fine. The Messina strait Bridge, R. Calzona, 2008

[1] Analisi costi – benefici del progetto del Ponte sullo Stretto di Messina, M. Brambilla, 2003
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C'era una volta il Ponte sullo Stretto, D. Ialacqua, Roma, 2013

Il Ponte sullo Stretto nell’economia del debito, L. Sturniolo, 2013

I padrini del ponte. Affari di mafia sullo stretto di Messina, A. Mazzeo, 2011

Collegamenti Sicilia - Continente, Rapporto Finale-Executive Summary, Price Waterhouse Coopers Italia, Price Waterhouse Coopers U.K., Cartet Università Bocconi, Sintra s.r.l., Net Engeneering, 2001
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[2]Osservazioni delle Associazioni ambientaliste F.A.I., Italia Nostra, Legambiente, M.A.N., WWF Italia al progetto definitivo relativo al “Collegamento stabile dello stretto di Messina e dei collegamenti stradali e ferroviari sui versanti calabresi e siciliani”, 2011
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Osservazioni al S.I.A. Riguardante il progetto preliminare per il collegamento stabile viario e ferroviario tra la Sicilia e il Continente presentato dalla società Stretto di Messina S.P.A. nel 2003 nell’ambito della procedura V.I.A.
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Ponte sullo Stretto e mucche da mungere, L. Sturniolo,, 2009

Le ragioni del no, D. Della Porta - G. Piazza, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2008

[3]Anti-Mafia Investigations Directorate (Dia) Investigation, 2005 article on mafia infiltrations
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Terre Libere
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Csoa Cartella, No ponte web page
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Media Links

The Bridge on the Strait of Messina, project
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Other Documents

No ponte demonstration credits:
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Protests against work sites credits:
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Postcard credits:
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Meta Information
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Last update26/02/2015