In reminiscence of the fatal day when the Morandi Bridge in Genoa collapsed, the new bridge connecting the Autostrada across the capital city was inaugurated this week, on Monday 3 August. Renamed ‘Genova-San Giorgio’, after the patron saint of the port city, the long bridge was completed in record time, less than two years after the disaster. A ceremony with heads of state, the architect and family of the victims was held not only to inaugurate the bridge but also to commemorate the 43 lives lost in the collapse.
This unique monument was designed by Genoa native, Renzo Piano, the renowned architect of the Shard in London and Paris’s Pompidou Centre. He observed his new creation, declaring: “We are suspended between grief and pride.” Though welcomed with a celebration, the people of Genoa and, especially, the relatives of the victims acknowledged the inaugurated bridge with heavy hearts.
Many will remember the tragic incident on 14 August 2018. Shocking images of the bridge’s cables, which broke and took down one of the supporting towers, were broadcasted worldwide. In the end, the collapse of the infamous Morandi Bridge caused numerous victims. It also brought down the motorway-network company, which was in charge of maintaining the infrastructure. Under investigation, Autostrade per l’Italia has been accused of multiple homicides amidst allegations of falsifying safety reports and reducing maintenance funds.
The history behind the state of the original bridge is long. Built in 1967, it was named after Riccardo Morandi, the engineer who designed it. Not long after its construction, the investigation uncovered that the iconic infrastructure’s foundation was already unsafe. From the 1990s, the steel supporting the bridge had already shown evidence of corrosion, forcing Autostrade to recondition it. However, the restoration must have been faulty, since it broke down as soon as the giant Italian enterprise Benetton bought the highway company. The investigation indicates that the inspections that followed that event were neglected, eventually leading to the bridge’s collapse.
The construction of the new bridge, which was completed in only two years, promises a new high-tech structure with four maintenance robots continuously running along its length, powered by 2,000 solar panels. These ‘robots’ are designed to notice any trace of erosion or weathering. The bridge design also included a dehumidification system that should limit plausible corrosion caused by weather conditions. Renzo Piano wanted the bridge to be safe for future travellers and be a memorial, with the victim’s names inscribed on each of the 43 lights.
Though still mourning for the tragedy of 2018, the inauguration of the new bridge brings hope. As Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stated, the completion of the new infrastructure can be interpreted as a “sign of rebirth.”
- Charlotte Gillet