THE ITALIAN parliament last week approved 'in principle' the use of private finance to construct the long delayed £2.1bn Messina Bridge between Italy and Sicily, but deferred final go ahead pending further economic analysis.
'This is definitely the final hurdle and, with widespread political and public support, it would be difficult for the committee to now say no,' said Engineer Enzo Vullo, technical director of state-owned promoter Stretto di Messina.
'We hope for a decision by the end on the year and have already received private financing offers from several countries,' he added.
Approval of the bridge, which at 3.3km would be the world's longest span suspension bridge, is now vested in the Interministerial Committee for Economic Programming. This powerful grouping made up of the finance, economic planning and public works ministries, will now look at the economics in detail before ruling on the 3.7km crossing.
Previous independent studies had already found the combined road and rail crossing financially viable in terms of traffic flow and time saved compared to the existing 35 minute Messina Straits ferry crossing. Banks and contracting groups from Japan, France and the US are currently lobbying the promoter to get involved in the all-steel bridge (NCE last week).