Two years after the Morandi disaster, Genoa inaugurates its new bridge, balanced between pride and shame


The new Genoa viaduct will be inaugurated on August 3 by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, almost two years to the day after the incredible collapse of the Morandi Bridge, a disaster that left 43 victims on August 14, 2018. The reconstruction has lasted a year and cost over 200 million euros.

The view that motorists will discover when crossing the new bridge, 90 meters high, is breathtaking. A postcard of the port of Genoa visible through the glass parapets that protect the bridge over a length of more than a kilometer. For the first time since the start of construction, Renzo Piano climbed onto the viaduct. At 82 years old, the Genoese architect, known throughout the world, designed a bridge that looks like a large white vessel, he gave the project to the city of Genoa a few days after the fall of the Morandi Bridge.

I had a lot of admiration for the architect Morandi and this incredible viaduct built in the sixties, he said. My bridge cannot make this tragedy forget, and it is a heavy legacy to be the son of a tragedy, because a bridge has no right to fall and, to make it last, forever, it must be love. To be maintained, a bridge must be loved, so I hope this bridge will be loved!

On the site, the workers are still busy, in a few hours the bridge will be delivered to the city authorities. Seeing the architect, they ask him to take a selfie, the architect lends itself to it with simplicity. “This bridge was built by 1184 people“, adds Renzo Piano,”and as it measures a little over a kilometer, we can consider that each worker has achieved a meter!

A record site

Less than two years will separate the two events that will have marked the entire city of Genoa. The fall of the Morandi Bridge, this reinforced concrete viaduct, symbol of the architecture of the Sixties revival, nicknamed the Brooklyn Bridge because of its resemblance to the New York Bridge and the inauguration of the new bridge which will be called the bridge Saint-Georges, like the symbolic cross which adorns the flags of the port city.
On August 14, 2018, 43 people died in the incredible collapse of the viaduct, and without the torrential rain that fell on the city that morning, the toll would undoubtedly have been much heavier. Since then, the city has lived to the rhythm of the tragedy, six buildings built under the viaduct have been evacuated, hundreds of residents displaced, then the summer of 2019, the Genoese hold their breath during the dynamite destruction of the remains of the famous viaduct.

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On June 28, 2019, Genoa held its breath during the dynamite destruction of the remains of the famous viaduct. © AFP

Reconstruction fascinates the city, in one year, the new bridge emerges from the ground, 19 piers that rise to 90 meters in height, a steel deck that resembles the hull of a large white vessel. The figures are impressive, 67,000 cubic meters of cement, 24,000 tonnes of metal, like three Eiffel Towers, more than a thousand workers who take turns day and night for eleven months, no matter the weather and even during confinement.

A record building site, unheard of in Italy, where public works last for decades because of the heavy bureaucracy. For entrepreneur Pietro Salini, managing director of Webuild, this project is the model to follow in order to relaunch the country. “This is the model of Genes, wanting to do things and achieve them. This is the only way to give impetus to the realization of major projects, to impose a different cultural approach.

We must realize that in Europe the major infrastructures all date from the post-war period, and the cements have a limited lifespan, we must take advantage of European funds to control these infrastructures and replace them if necessary, in time, before disasters happen!“, conclut Pietro Salini.

The bridge of rebirth, or the bridge of shame

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The impressive work is sometimes perceived as the bridge of rebirth, sometimes as that of shame. © Valerie Dupont

The city authorities, the mayor and the governor of the region, all talk about the Renaissance Bridge. The example of an Italy that wins, able when it wants to stick together to achieve a bridge in record time. The symbol to follow after the coronavirus epidemic.

►►► To read also: Italy: days of joy, a first car takes the new Genoa bridge

The words pride, achievement, record work, Italian excellence, punctuate their speeches in these days preceding the inauguration. But at the request of the families of the victims, the ceremony of August 3, organized by the Presidency of the Republic will be sober.

This bridge was rebuilt on the ruins of another which collapsed because of negligence, because of petty people who did not do their job and who made money in disregard of the life of 43 people. It cannot become the bridge of rebirth, it is rather the bridge of shame“, believes Giovanna Donato, who lost her ex-husband, the father of her son Cesare in the tragedy.

Justice is the only thing that can give us some peace, our pain, no one will erase it, but give us peace, yes, I hope the trial will be as quick as the reconstruction“, explains the young woman who claims to fight on behalf of her twelve-year-old son.

Like the other relatives of the victims, she refused to attend the inauguration. “I don’t drive, so I won’t drive over the bridge on my own“, she adds. I know it is indispensable to the city, because it connects the two commercial sides of the port, it connects the city and Italy to northern Europe, but when I see it I always say to myself ‘Why? ‘,’ Why didn’t they build this new front axle? ‘. It would never have happened. The trial is expected to begin in 2021.

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