How the plans of the ports of Messina and Reggio “change” with the bridge over the Strait


By John

The ports of the Strait, in particular those of Messina and Villa San Giovanni, but also that of Reggio Calabria and, more distant but no less interested, that of Milazzo, will have to be «reorganized and re-functionalized» in view of the bridge over the Strait. And the related infrastructures will have to be made «consistent with the new configuration of mobility resulting from the project that will be carried out», a project which, at the same time, «it modifies the Organization’s own objectives in the long run».
There is an entire chapter of the new three-year operational plan (Pot) of the Port System Authority of the Strait, approved in recent weeks, dedicated to the scenarios related to the bridge. It could not be otherwise, given that those scenarios have inevitably entered among those hypothesized in another key act hesitated, at the beginning of June, by the Authority chaired by Mario Mega: the System Strategic Planning Document (Dpss).
They are two documents that represent the‘architrave of future programs (short, medium and long term) of an institution whose role – due to the centrality of the areas of competence, but also due to the availability of economic resources and investment capacity – has always been crucial in the city of Messina. It will be even more so with the comeback of the Bridge, so much so that his future guide has become a “hot” spot even from a political point of view.
However, an apparent diversity of approach and vision stands out between the two documents. If in the Dpss, in fact, the tones are more enthusiastic about the bridge, going so far as to specify that among the future scenarios for the port system of the Strait, all judged “positive”, the one that offers the best prospects is precisely the scenario linked to the bridge, in the Pot prudence prevails and, at a certain point, even the word “concern” appears.

The scenario according to the Dpss

In the strategic planning document, in particular, we read: “At the level of the entire port system of the Strait, the judgment on the maneuver linked to the strategic planning is positive in all scenarios, but with stronger intensity in the scenario with the bridge where, however, the exercise of predicting new traffic flows is more difficult, being more disconnected from previous trends. However, changes taking place in the global geopolitical framework, greater availability of financial resources linked to the Pnrr, greater attention to the various territorial scales linked to the construction of the Bridge require, in our opinion, close attention, especially at the level of Dpss, to the opportunities and challenges associated with this scenario”. Going into specifics, «the Port of Messina is the one that will suffer the most from the inconveniences and charges associated with the construction of the bridge, but also the one that will benefit the most in subsequent times, being able to further specialize in services with greater added value. Even greater will be the benefits for the city of Messina, which will improve its relationship with the port area and access to the sea and will become even more central as a tourist attraction”.


Those who created the Dpss (experts from the companies Proger spa, Dinamica srl ​​and Systematica srl) also predicted what could happen, in the ports under the jurisdiction of the Authority, in the presence of the Bridge: «The specializations of the individual ports vary significantly due to of the greater impetus to investments for the construction of new infrastructures in the first decade – we read -, while in the second decade port traffic could be reduced which will be covered by the bridge, but goods traffic will grow in all ports linked to the greater growth in GDP of the island and to the interchange with the other economies and the services linked to the strong growth of tourism and cruise traffic will grow to an even higher extent, at least in some ports such as Messina, Milazzo and Reggio”.
With the Bridge, therefore, «the general growth trend in demand assumed is 3% up to 2030 and 6% in the following decade; on the other hand, local passengers should decrease by 12% per year in the ports of Messina, Villa San Giovanni and Reggio. The corrective coefficients by port see a slightly more accelerated growth for Messina in the first decade, to then decrease significantly in the second, where the above-average growth would only occur in the port of Milazzo. The traffics most penalized by the construction of the bridge could obviously be those linked to the crossing of rolling stock, heavy vehicles and cars, concentrated in the ports of Villa and Messina, but the spaces that will be freed up in the port areas will become a precious resource for growth additional services, all with less damage due to crossing and congestion problems”.

Pot’s analysis

The three-year operational plan focuses on shorter-range prospects, with a more cautious eye. “At the moment it is not yet possible to define in detail what will be the necessary interventions for the adaptation of the port infrastructures to the new transport structure”: for those it will be necessary to wait, in fact, for the executive project. But «it is however possible to hypothesize, starting from this phase, that the construction of the bridge could have refluences: in the construction phase, for any need to transport materials and vehicles by sea; in the operational phase, for the reduction of the request for ferrying services of vehicles and passengers, both by rail and by sea, and for the reorganization of the local public passenger transport system”.
According to the Authority “in particular it will be necessary to understand whether the operating conditions will provide for the need for replacement ferry services, in certain critical conditions, or whether this possibility can be completely excluded allowing the port docks to be dedicated to other commercial or tourist functions . A similar reasoning will have to be carried out for foot passenger traffic, not only when fully operational but also for the construction phase, assuming in the first case thepossible possibility of also integrating maritime mobility into the local public transport system, rail and road, which will be implemented on both sides of the Strait of Messina connected by the bridge and in the second case imagining a considerable increase in the number of commuters precisely due to the workforce involved in the construction sites”.
There is also a “more worrying scenario”, and it is “the one connected to the construction phase and to the possible use of docks and squares for the handling of materials and vehicles, in ports that already today register a lack of moorings for carrying out of the ordinary functions of ferrying both vehicles and passengers”. This is why, according to the entity led by Mega (here the clearly “political” input), “one solution could be to identify as “priority interventions” and therefore by way of derogation from ordinary procedures with a sharp reduction in authorization times – all the works already included in the Dpss adopted among the guidelines for the development of ports and among these as a priority the new commercial docks south of the breakwater in the port of Villa San Giovanni, north of the current port of Reggio Calabria, in the port of Milazzo adjacent to the XX July quay, in addition to the completion of the new port of Tremestieri and the recovery of the port of Saline”. The bridge, therefore, as an “opportunity” to accelerate a series of works already considered strategic by the Authority.