Italy has long toyed with the idea of building a bridge between the island of Sicily and the mainland.
The highly ambitious engineering project was in the preliminary stages for decades before being shelved in 2013.
Now Italy’s new right-wing government wants to revive the plans.
prime minister Giorgia Meloni has announced that it will ask the EU to fund the multi-billion dollar proposal.
Can you drive from Sicily to mainland Italy?
But even in Roman times the idea was one Bridge The connection of the two landmasses has been debated.
According to some historians, the ancient Romans actually built one out of barrels and boats.
Dictator Benito Mussolini revived the dream of linkage Sicily with the mainland, but only under the government of Silvio Berlusconi in the early 2000s did the program receive funding from Brussels.
In 2009 the construction contract was awarded to the Messina Strait Company.
The planned rail and road link would connect the Sicilian city of Messina with the mainland region of Calabria.
But the plans were scrapped in 2013 after former Prime Minister Mario Monti shut down the construction company in a series of austerity measures.
Why is there no bridge from mainland Italy to Sicily?
The plans for a suspension bridge in between Sicily and the mainland were not unanimously supported.
Proponents claim that the connection will help Islandthe stagnant economy and reduce the gap between the prosperous north and the poorer south of the country.
Proponents also say it will allow cargo ships arriving down the Suez Canal to offload their goods onto trains in Sicily.
Then they could be quickly transported to the north of the country, saving long sea voyages.
That rail and a road link would also ease the pressure on the crowded ferry services that carry cars, trucks, and trains across the Strait of Messina.
But critics say the gigantic bridge would be a waste of public money and a risky endeavor rolled into one active seismic zone.
Environmentalists also warn of the endangerment of local ecosystems and the aesthetic damage to the landscape.
When will the bridge over the Strait of Messina be built?
In her first budget since taking office as prime minister last month, Meloni reinstated the company tasked with overseeing the construction of the suspension bridge across the Strait of Messina.
“These are the government and the legislature that have the ambition to lay the first stone and start building this blessed project,” said Matteo Salvini, Italy’s infrastructure minister and leader of the Lega coalition party.
The proposed street and railway connection would have a central span of over 3 km, making it the longest suspension bridge in the world.
If the project comes about, it is likely to cost several billion euros. Meloni has announced that it will ask the EU for financial help.
Salvini said he would discuss the project in Brussels on December 5.
He added that construction would begin in two years and take about five years to complete.
“Starting work on the construction of the Straits Bridge is one of my goals,” Salvini told Italian broadcaster RAI last month.
“Transferring ferries costs people more in a year than it would cost to build the bridge, along with pollution and wasted time.”