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Strait of Messina

The Strait of Messina Bridge Project, if completed, would stand as one of the landmark bridges of the 21st century. It would be the longest suspension bridge ever built. The Strait of Messina divides the island of Sicily from Calabria in southern Italy, and is 3 km wide. While the overall length is not a big problem, the economics, water depth, wind, and earthquakes all have to be accounted for. To avoid the problem of the deep water, the solution was to design the longest suspension bridge ever. It will have a 3,300-meter main span and 180-meter side spans (an overall length of 3.7 kilometers). The main piers will be founded in 120 meters of water. The aerodynamic features of the bridge will allow it to withstand winds up to 216 km per hour. The bridge will also be able to face magnitude 7.1 earthquakes without damage. The only obstacle left is the funding. The bridge is expected to cost $5 billion and take 11 years to build. The bridge will be 60 meters wide and will have twelve lanes for traffic and two lanes in the middle for trains. This will allow up to 140,000 vehicles and 200 trains to cross per day, reducing transit times of up to 12 hours down to minutes.

This image was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, on June 14, 2002.

Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team