- Coping with Unexpected foreseeable Events Guidelines for a Strategic Plan of “Bridge of Messina Region”   click here to open paper content61 kb
by    Imbesi, Giuseppe & La Greca, Paolo & matinico, Francesco | plagreca@dau.unict.it   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The decision process of building the bridge between Sicily and mainland, and consequences on strategic planning of the surrounding area (Strait of Messina)
Giuseppe Imbesi*, Paolo La Greca**, Francesco Martinico **, Giuseppina Costa **
* Università di Roma La Sapienza
** Università di Catania
Coping with unexpected foreseeable events
Guidelines for a Strategic Plan of “Bridge of Messina Region”

The construction of a large infrastructure, like the Bridge across the Strait of Messina, represents a considerable change in the way in which the overall settlement system of a region works.
The complex history of this bridge, commonly considered the solution for improving connections between Sicily and the mainland, contains two major elements of interest.
The first one is related to the decision process of building a large infrastructure, the second is represented by the need of considering carefully the consequences on land use issues once the decision has been taken. Very often planners are required to provide solutions that accommodate consequences of choices that are not well rooted in shared and well-tested planning procedures.
The aim of this paper is to explore some of these elements.
The bridge across the Strait will be the longest single span suspension bridge in the world (3,300 meters), with a total cost that has been evaluated in about 4842 million Euro, net of VAT.
A relevant element in the entire decision process is the understatement of key issues, like the real benefits of the bridge and the environmental impact of the infrastructure. As far as the reduction in time and costs of the crossing is concerned, the recent report (January 2001) issued by an international team of advisors shows that the advantages of the bridge are quite modest. In the case of the connection between the two main cities (Messina and Reggio) the bridge will even worsen the present conditions.
The other important issue is represented by the impact of the work on the surrounding environment both during the ''building'' stage and the following ''completion'' stage, i. e. the damage caused by building yards, the need for sand and gravel required in the building works (about 1 million m3), the dumping of materials from excavations (about 8 million m3). On the contrary, all these elements seem to be overwhelmed by other reasons like the social, economic and territorial impact, although the advisors report states that positive effects on local economy (provinces of Messina and Reggio Calabria) and on regional economy (Calabria and Sicily) are not always very important. The same report says that, if the analysis is widened (to the entire “Mezzogiorno” or to Italy) the “yard stage” impact remains perceptible, while the “operational stage” is diluted and does not show significant differential effects.
The studies considers also the tourist impact due to the “monument effect” of the bridge which will become a major tourist destination, or other factors like the reduction of the psychological condition of “insularity” of Sicily.
The overall impression is that “soft” and intangible elements are prevailing on rigorous researches and analyses in order to assess the feasibility of the infrastructure.
Moreover, the extensive media coverage and the bipartisan political sponsorship of the idea are influencing heavily the decision process, causing a substantial reduction in the possibility of discussing in terms of real planning alternatives. In this process the participation and partnership approach, nowadays a central element in any planning process aimed at supporting local development, has been impoverished in its contents and transformed into a nonessential component. The decision process has been polarized into two irreconcilable alternatives, where “bridge supporters” accuse “bridge fighters” and vice versa, by using remarks that are only vaguely related to the real matter.
The second part of the paper is aimed at investigating how planning can suggest ways of integrating the new infrastructure in a general plan of the “Strait Region”, considering that the decision of building the bridge has been already taken. The relevant dimension of the infrastructure requires accurate planning in order to avoid a worsening of the present situation. This area, that includes the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria, has considerable problems of congestion and an incoherent general layout of settlements. The bridge event can represent a stimulus and a chance to define a strategic plan for this area. In particular, the major issues at stake are: the creation of new relationships between the new infrastructures (the bridge and the road and railway connections) and the existing urban fabric, the mitigation of the effects (physical and social) of the bridge on the immediate surrounding areas, the re-use of brown-field areas that will host new functions and problems related to the environment and natural risks (i. e. the overwhelming urban load along coasts and rivers). This plan has to rethink the entire settlement structure of the area opening up a range of alternatives in order to c
Large infrastructures, decision process, strategic planning
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