The cabinet of Italian premier Giorgia Meloni on Thursday approved a decree reviving a contentious plan to build a bridge across the Strait of Messina, linking Sicily to the mainland.
The 3.2 kilometre long suspension bridge, whose planned construction was scrapped a decade ago over budget constraints, is now back on the table in a multi-billion euro project championed by Italy's deputy premier and infrastructure minister Matteo Salvini.
Hailing it as an "historic day", Salvini wrote on Twitter: "After so many years of defeatism and distrust, this government is reviving the project for the bridge over the Strait, which will connect Sicily with Calabria, the rest of Italy and Europe."
Addressing concerns over its structural viability, environmental impact and safety in an earthquake-prone area, Salvini said the bridge would represent "the crowning glory of Italian engineering" and would be built according to "new technical, safety and environmental standards”.
The long-discussed project, which was rejected by previous governments due to high costs and engineering impracticability, would create tens of thousands of jobs, Salvini claims.
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a partner in Italy's right-wing coalition, welcomed the revival of the project which he had backed as premier in 2009.
"We plan to approve the executive project by 31 July 2024", Salvini said, before starting to build what he hailed as "the most beautiful, greenest and safest single span bridge in the world".