An inauguration with great pomp, yet mixed with the resentment of the families of the victims. This Monday, almost two years to the day after the dramatic collapse of the Genoa bridge, which caused the death of 43 people whose vehicles were thrown into the void, a new building is inaugurated in the city in northern Italy , in the presence of the president and the head of government. Le Parisien looks back on the express construction, in barely 15 months, of this monumental viaduct signed by the architect Renzo Piano, against a backdrop of security drama in Italy.
What changes compared to the previous bridge?
This new bridge was born from the hands of several Italian companies, who came together to collaborate on the basis of a sketch by the architect Renzo Piano, native of Genoa, who offered his project to the city. It is to him that we owe in particular the Center Pompidou and the new courthouse, both located in Paris.
If the old bridge - whose official title of Polcevera viaduct, was more often replaced by that of "Morandi bridge", named after its designer Riccardo Morandi - spanned 1,102 meters, it is a little smaller, with its 1067 meters in length. It is also less majestic than its predecessor, inaugurated in 1967, some of whose pillars were 80 m high. Both were hoisted 45m from the ground, but Renzo Piano's bridge is lighter. The architect wanted to give it the shape of a ship's prow and topped it with 43 luminous pillars (or masts), in homage to each of the victims of the 2018 collapse. As for the Morandi Bridge, this one will accommodate a portion of the A10 motorway. Its last section was laid last April.
How could it have been built in such a short time?
For the city, it was a question of leading a race against time, in order to compensate for the gaping hole left for two years by the collapse of the Morandi bridge, on which a particularly busy highway circulated. A major challenge, in an Italy often weighed down by its administrative slowness. This express construction was particularly successful because of the mass of labor recruited. Nearly 1,000 workers took turns day and night for months, even during confinement.
“Many construction companies called us after the Morandi fell. The workers wanted to work on the new bridge, ”one of the project engineers told our colleagues from RTBF. In addition to the considerable number of workers, the director of the project, Francesco Poma, specifies having "used special cements which made it possible to accelerate the construction", and thus to have put "less than thirty days per pillar". The latter have also started to be built even though the old bridge had not yet been completely demolished.
What about his security?
The safety of the building is paramount, as its predecessor collapsed due to deficiencies in its maintenance and the unintentional deactivation of sensors that were used to monitor its condition, as a report pointed out last November. To test its strength, in mid-July, the Renzo Piano bridge was crossed by 56 trucks weighing 44 tonnes each, or 2,500 tonnes, which allowed the authorities to avoid further fears.
In addition, in order to avoid damage that could occur due to corrosion, it is equipped with a dehumidification system, which will also prevent the formation of salt condensation in this seaside town. The last technical step was also taken recently, reports the Italian daily La Repubblica: the bridge has obtained an authorization to open from the Ministry of Transport after a viability inspection. Proof of his confidence in the construction companies behind the work, it is the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella himself, who will cross the bridge first, by car, on Monday.
How is it perceived by the families of the victims?
This inauguration greatly displeased the families of the victims. "We will not be present at the inauguration, we do not want the tragedy to end in carnival", commented in particular to AFP Egle Possetti, representative of the Committee of the relatives of the victims. “You can have a big party like this if the bridge was destroyed because it was old, a new one was built and no one died,” he also lamented.
To the daily La Repubblica, this Italian added: “We will never feel included in this bridge, born from the ashes of a tragedy. Personally, I will never set foot there ”. The families and friends of the deceased announced that they would meet again in 11 days, on August 14, the anniversary of the tragedy, to pay tribute to their loved ones, far from the building.
Where is the investigation?
In August 2019, the Genoa prosecutor, who coordinates the investigations, summed up the facts as follows: "The bridge […] collapsed because it could no longer stand up". The company Autostrade per L'Italia, manager of the viaduct and property of the Benetton group, is on the dock. He is accused of having neglected for many years the security of the Morandi Bridge and of having ignored several reports denouncing its dilapidation and its risk of collapse.
Newsletter - Most of the newsEvery morning, the news seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to enable you to receive our news and commercial offers. Learn more
In all, more than 70 people have been indicted for "manslaughter", as part of an investigation that is still ongoing. The prospect of a trial remains remote.