Venice, September 10 - Almost one billion euros in infrastructure funding has been pledged for a dam project under construction in Venice due to its "strategic" value, officials said Tuesday. The latest funding for the MOSE project, announced by the Ministry of Infrastructure, is the largest single tranche of funding for the massive project and is expected to help advance the work so it may be completed by 2016. The government's Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) said the work is crucial "for the protection of the lagoon and the city of Venice". The first phase of the controversial MOSE retractable-dam system between Venice and the Adriatic Sea, designed to protect the city from floods, was recently completed. The 5.4-billion-euro project was conceived in 1984 and since then MOSE, which in Italian is a play on the name Moses, has been controversial, with environmentalists saying it will interrupt the natural ecosystem and some experts questioning its effectiveness in protecting the city.