It will eventually be the first new bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice for more than 150 years. Designed by the famous Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, who has already created bridges for London, Buenos Aires and Berlin, it will cross from Piazzale Roma to the central railway station.

The new bridge, to be built in steel, glass and stone, has had problems since work began eight years ago.

The first occurred when it was discovered that the bridge was inaccessible to the disabled, a grave omission given that the laws on access are very rigorous. Although the architect was unhappy about amending the design he agreed to the installation of the necessary wheelchair lift. Then questions were asked about the safety of the bridge and reinforcements were required to the edge of the canal and to the two ends of the arch.

The cost of building has already reached almost twice the original estimate, the project is far behind schedule and there will now be a judicial enquiry into the project. Permission to build the bridge was given by the Venice city authorities in 1997. It took just three years to build the Rialto bridge in 1588.