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Venice cruise ships to finally get their own docks, away from city

by Jacopo Giliberto

The project for the big cruise ships docking off of Venice has been selected: the new dock will be at the port of Lido, near the mobile barriers of the Mose dam system that protect the city from the tide.

Months after the approval by a specific commission, Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti has granted environmental approval to the project and signed and sent a decree-law to Transport Minister Graziano Delrio to start the work.

The estimated cost of the project is of (at least) €127 million. The construction work will take (at least) two years and a half to complete.

Galletti formally rejected the rival project, the so-called Sant'Angelo Contorta, which was indicated years ago as a reference project by the government but was later modified with a different route by the City of Venice.

The issue concerns the large ships that enter the lagoon, cruise past the city center and dock off of the maritime station.

This is the only possible route, because of the lagoon seabed and the size of the ships. There are around 600 dockings per year. The passage of these giants of the sea is loved by passengers and shipping companies, but criticized by legions of intellectuals, tourists and residents.

In 2012, under the government of Mario Monti, Minister of Economic Development CorradoPassera and Minister of Transports and Infrastructure Corrado Clini issued a ban that prevented the passage of big ships along that route and forced companies to find an alternative.

The Port Authority presented a heavily-sponsored project to excavate a large canal through the shallow waters of the lagoon to connect the maritime station with the open sea through the Malamocco harbor. The city joined the project but added a solution that would have seen the huge canal very close to the industrial area of Marghera.

A long-time member of the Democratic Party in Venice, Cesare De Piccoli, together with steel-maker and engineering firm Duferco envisaged the construction of a new terminal at the border of the lagoon and the sea, outside the Mose system, with eco-friendly ferries transporing cruise passengers and their suitcases to the maritime station.

Other projects were also submitted to the Environmental Impact Assessment Commission of the Environment Ministry, which eventually approved the Duferco project.