A project to build the longest suspension bridge in the world has taken a major step towards becoming reality. An international consortium led by the Italian company Impregilo has been awarded the multibillion euro contract to link Sicily with the mainland.Promoters of the bridge say it will boost the economies of poor regions in the south. But opponents say the money would be better spent on improving the existing infrastructure there. They also cite environmental concerns and fears it will attract the mafia. The chief executive of the firm overseeing the project, Pietro Ciucci, has tried to be reassuring, saying that all financial transactions would be monitored closely. The central span will measure more than three kilometres – nearly three times longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge. The two towers supporting it will be higher than the Eiffel tower. Building is due to begin next year and finish in 2012.