CONSTRUCTION OF a $2bn barrage to protect Venice from flooding is expected to begin this year after critics of the scheme withdrew their objections .
A contractor for the colossal project has yet to be selected, but Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was set to perform a 'ground breaking' ceremony as NCEI went to press.
Preliminary works including construction of breakwaters is already under way and work on the barrage proper should start this autumn, a spokeswoman for client Consorzio Venezia Nouva said. Construction will take around eight years.
Venice lies within a lagoon, protected from the Adriatic Sea by a string of islands. Barrages will be installed across the mouths of three inlets. These will consist of hollow steel gates which during normal tidal conditions will be housed in concrete caissons on the sea bed.
But in advance of exceptionally high tides of up to 2m, air will be blown into the gates, making them buoyant and raising them to the surface.
In all there will be 79 barriers, measuring 20m wide and between 20m and 30m high by 3.5m to 5m deep, depending on the depth of water.
The design was strongly opposed by environmentalists.
They claimed that pollution from heavy industries sited on the shores of Venice lagoon would build up when the gates are deployed.
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