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Messina bridge plan dumped

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ITALIAN CONTRACTOR Impregilo is negotiating compensation with the Italian government after its contract to build the $5bn Messina Bridge was scrapped.

Prime minister Romano Prodi's coalition government dropped plans to build the 3.3km suspension bridge, which would have been the world's longest, when it was elected in May (NCEI July).

A construction consortium led by Impregilo was due to start on site in the new year.

Now that the scheme has been cancelled, it is eligible for compensation.

A spokeswoman for state owned client company Stretto di Messina said that had Impregilo started on site it would have been entitled to 10% of the construction cost, in the region of $500M.

It won the contract to build the bridge last October but because it was still developing a detailed design it was unclear whether Impregilo would be entitled to cash, she added.

The spokeswoman said that the government was trying to sweeten the blow by offering Impregilo other transport infrastructure work to an equivalent value.

Prodi declared that his government would plough cash earmarked for the bridge and approach works into other much needed road and rail upgrade work in Sicily and Calabria ? the regions that were to have benefited from construction of the bridge.

The spokeswoman said that plans to build the Messina Bridge had not been killed but had been mothballed.

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