Bridge Collapse

What Caused the Bridge Collapse in Italy?

On August 14, a large section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed during heavy rainfall. The bridge collapse caused dozens of vehicles to plunge 45 meters during a time of heavy traffic. The collapse caused 43 people to be killed. The major road, the A10 tollway crosses the Morandi bridge. This road serves the Italian Riviera and connects northern Italy to France. The bridge is 1.2 kilometers long, with a portion spanning the Polcevera waterway. Some sections cross buildings and railway lines.

The Bridge History

Designed by Riccardo Morandi, the bridge was completed in 1967. The bridge underwent major repairs during the 1990s. It was restructured in 2016. Work to shore up the foundation of the bridge was being done at the time of the bridge’s collapse. It was being constantly monitored during the repair process. The section that fell was about 200 meters in length.

Why Was There A Collapse?

Of course, there is plenty of speculation regarding what caused the bridge to collapse. The investigation is currently ongoing. Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • Some experts believe it was caused by the ongoing maintenance work.
  • Some believe it could have been caused by heavy traffic.
  • A design flaw could have been the main contributing factor.
  • A 2011 report by an Italian highways company indicated the bridge, which saw 25 million vehicles annually, was suffering degradation.
  • A structural engineer said in 2016 it was more economical to rebuild the bridge because of its high ongoing maintenance expenses. He warned of errors in the bridge and that it would require replacement.

Italy Publishes Report Placing Blame on Bridge Collapse

Italy recently published a report that points blame on Autostrade per l’Italia, a road contractor, for the bridge collapse. Rome is expected to take that evidence to strip the road contractor of its concessions role as the company running Italian motorways. According to the report, the company failed to properly assess the bridge’s safety, and thus, a viaduct collapsed resulting in the 43 deaths. In the report, the government blamed the company for serious oversights and said it would like to revoke all the company’s Italian motorway concessions. According to the report, Autostrade, mostly owned by Atlantia, was unable to properly address the problems that the aging infrastructure was facing. The report also indicated that 98% of the cost of reinforcing and repairing the bridge since 1982 had been done before the road contracting company was privatized in 1999.

Autostrade runs about 2,000 miles of roads in Italy and accounted for 68% of the core earnings of its parent company for the first half of 2018. After the report was published, Atlantia shares fell 0.7 percent. Rome had already said that it doesn’t want Autostrade to play a role in the bridge rebuilding. A judge has ruled that the bridge rebuilding cannot start for at least two months until site inspections have been completed by engineering experts.

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