Italy's new government supporting contract to build bridge between Sicily and mainland

MinisterAlessandro Bianchi on Wednesday described the plan as "the most useless and harmful Italian project of the past 100 years," according to the ANSA and Apcom agencies. He spoke minutes after being sworn in.

The 3.7-kilometer (2.3-mile) long suspension bridge was expected to open by 2011 and was considered one of biggest public works projects in Italy's history.

A consortium led by Impregilo SpA won the contract late last year to build it, and estimated the cost of the project at about Ђ4.6 billion (US$6 billion).

The project was backed by the government of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi as a way to modernize the country's infrastructures and boost the stagnating domestic economy with big public projects. But it has been clouded by environmental concerns and Mafia arrests, the AP reports.

Italian environmental groups have complained that the bridge would wreak havoc on the environment, in particular by interfering with bird migration, and pose a danger because of the risk of earthquakes.

"Impregilo is right in representing its interest, but we represent the country's interest and we'll find a technical way to dismiss this harmful project," Paolo Cento, the new economy deputy minister, said in response to Lina's statement.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team