Epic “404” for Italy’s Messina Straits Bridge and TAV High Speed Rail To France

By: | December 30th, 2013

The top word in English in 2013, “404”, is the universal code for “failure” on the Internet. “Fail” was the number two term in a year where so many things are seemingly wrong … in the US: the ACA, NSA and a deadlocked government, in Eurpoe, a shaky European Union and in Asia, the continued birth pangs of rising powers China and India.

At IndustryTap, we often report on successful engineering projects and new technologies like the tidal barrier in the Venice Lagoon that is now 75% complete.

Today, we look at the potential scuttling of two major Italian infrastructure projects. Italians may be bidding “arrivederci” to the longest single-span suspension bridge across the Messina Straits to Sicily and to the TAV High Speed Railway line expansion to France.

The $8 Billion (€6 Billion) Messina Straits Suspension Bridge

The “Stretto di Messina” or Messina Straits Bridge linking Sicily to the Italian mainland would have been one of the most interesting engineering projects ever undertaken in Europe. The bridge was planned at 12,000 feet (3,690m) and would have carried 4,500 cars an hour and 200 trains a day. It would have nearly double the size of the main span of the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge in Japan, making it the longest bridge in the world.

The project, originally given a green light by Berlusconi was shelved by Romano Prodi in 2006 and put back on life support in 2008 when Berlusconi returned to power. With Berlusconi out of the picture permanently, the current Italian government is looking at less ambitious and more sustainable alternatives like solar energy and green projects.

Derailing of Italy to France HSR

While Italy helped pioneer the High Speed Rail (HSR) in Europe, plans to build a high-speed rail from Turin, Northern Italy, under the Alps to Lyon in France, an on again, of again project, is currently in the off stage. The future of the project is a fight between forces for economic rejuvenation in Europe versus those who believe the approximately $27 billion (€20 billion) is better spent on food, education and environmental sustainability.

According to opponents, drilling in the Alps would release asbestos and uranium, sickening local populations. Supporters argue the new train system will move freight, including toxic industrial chemicals, from the roads to the new train system, de-congesting roads and improving air quality.

The current government in Italy is leaning against the project, at least for now.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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