Italy Replaces Failed Morandi Bridge in 18 Months
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on August 11, 2020 |
New name—San Giorgio Bridge.
(Image courtesy of Seatrade Cruise News, credit: Luca Peruzzi.)
(Image courtesy of Seatrade Cruise News, credit: Luca Peruzzi.)

The Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed Aug. 14, 2018, killing 43 people, injuring hundreds and leaving devastation in its wake. It also meant a broken link in a vital trade route between France and Italy. Despite the behind-the-scenes turmoil that still shrouds the fallen bridge—from talk of design flaws to neglected maintenance and lawsuits—there is now a new bridge ready to take on motorists: The San Giorgio Bridge.

Demotion of the damaged Morandi Bridge, in Genoa. A section of the bridge suddenly gave way Aug. 14, 2018, killing 43 people. (Image courtesy of RINA.)
Demotion of the damaged Morandi Bridge, in Genoa. A section of the bridge suddenly gave way Aug. 14, 2018, killing 43 people. (Image courtesy of RINA.)

Within four months of the bridge collapse, Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci designated €202 million new bridge ($229 million) to rebuild a structure over the Polcevera River to replace the collapsed Morandi Bridge, which was designed by Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1967. Design of the bridge was awarded to Renzo Piano, a native Genoan and architect of The Shard in London and Whitney Museum in New York City.

Working around the clock, design and construction went full steam ahead to replace the former 3,878-foot bridge that connects the A10 motorway toward France and A7 to Milan. Even faced with COVID-19, the construction team was able to rebuild the new structure within 18 months of demolishing the old one. Ten of those months was dedicated to erecting the bridge.

According to Piano, the San Giorgio Bridge, which came in at €202 million ($237 million) is expected to last 1,000 years. The 3,500-foot bridge features design elements that pay tribute to city’s maritime history. Piano’s studio stated, “From an architectural point of view, the form described by the deck, which recalls the hull of a ship, is of great importance. The gradual reduction of the section toward the ends of the bridge attenuates the visual impact of the new infrastructure. In addition, the use of a light color for the coating of the steel elements makes the bridge bright, harmonizing its presence in the landscape.”

The state-of-the art construction is deemed an “urban bridge.” It features 19 spans that are 131-feet high. Eighteen reinforced concrete piers are located 164 feet apart. At the central portion, they are 328 feet apart. The piers were designed to be elliptical in order to reduce impact on the neighborhood below and serve as support for the steel and concrete deck, which also has support devices to protect against seismic activity. Metal fins alongside the structure have two rows of solar panels that will provide 95 percent of the energy the structure needs.

The bridge incorporates the latest technologies as part of the design. It has internal sensors—accelerometers, extensometers, velocimeters, inclinometers and detectors for joint expansion—that will be continuously monitored. Robots will be used along rails on the bridge’s edge to clean the solar panels and provide external monitoring.

A sign from above? Attendees at the inauguration of the new San Giorgio Bridge in August were met with a rainbow, perhaps a sign of a better future than its predecessor. (Image courtesy of AFP/M. Medina.)
A sign from above? Attendees at the inauguration of the new San Giorgio Bridge in August were met with a rainbow, perhaps a sign of a better future than its predecessor. (Image courtesy of AFP/M. Medina.)

At the August inauguration, the bridge was graced by a rainbow, as if a sign from the heavens. The people who were killed in the collapse were not forgotten.

“The new bridge is taking the place of the old one, so it’s a mix of sorrow, of what’s happening, but also pride,” Piano said. “Not just by me, by the entire community, more than 1,000 people. There is the pride of being able to rebuild the bridge.”

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