CONSTRUCTION OF the world's longest single span suspension bridge will go out to tender in the first quarter of 2003, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi promised last week.
The project will link Sicily to mainland Italy via a 3.3km central span, all steel suspension bridge over the Messina Straits.
Berlusconi made the announcement after a cabinet meeting at which ministers decided to approve the project.
He said that construction would begin in 2005 and would take around seven years.
The Italian government is to foot half of the £3bn construction bill, with the private sector matching the government investment under a build, operate, transfer concession.
The length of the concession and final design details are yet to be confirmed, said Enzo Vulla.
Technical director at state-owned project development company Stretto di Messina.
'The length of the concession is still under discussion and may be a parameter of the tender, ' said Vulla.
The project was first proposed over 30 years ago, but Berlusconi pledged to make it happen in his election campaign last year (NCE 26 April 2001).
Detailed design is largely complete.