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Venice flood defence to be “tourist attraction”

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Project to build 78 gates due to be completed in 2016

A project designed to prevent Venice from flooding, launched in 2003, could finally be finished in 2016.

A total of 78 gates are being built to rise out of the seabed by pumping air into them, blocking the three entrances to the lagoon in the event of storm surges or high tides. To lower the gates, seawater is pumped into them, allowing them to sink into purpose-built housings on the seabed.

Two sets of gates have been constructed so far, at the northern end of the lagoon. A huge lock has also been built by the central inlet to allow cruise ships to enter the lagoon when the gates are up.

“The city will be able to breathe,” Antonio Armellini, an adviser to the mayor of Venice, said. “More than that, it will become one of the city’s tourist attractions.”

The €5.5 billion project was originally mooted in the 1960s but was never implemented due to arguments over the cost, design and environmental impact of the project.

Recent floods and international concerns over Venice’s future pushed an agreement to be reached over the project, which is now employing about 4,000 people to complete. Once complete the 25-metre-wide gates will extend about a kilometre and a half across the three lagoon entrances and will be able to hold back surges of up to three metres in height.

The Times / TTG Digital

[photo: European Space Imagery]

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