Genoa Bridge Collapse
On Tuesday 14th August a large section of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy collapsed during heavy rainfall. A 200-metre section of the bridge collapsed at 11.30 local time (09:30 GMT) sending 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45 metres onto railway tracks below and this caused the death of 43 people.
The Bridge was designed by Ricardo Morandi, was completed in 1967 but restructuring work was done in 2016. Major repairs were also done to the bridge throughout the 1990s. Work on the bridge was being undertaken at the time of the collapse and therefore the bridge was being monitored.
The Morandi Bridge carries the A10 motorway and links Northern Italy to France. As a result of this around 25 million cars use the bridge every year. In 2011 a report was published by an Italian highways company which stated that the Morandi Bridge had been suffering degradation.
It has not yet been confirmed what caused the collapse and experts have differing opinions. Some experts have said ongoing maintenance works caused the collapse whereas others have said it could have been as a result of a design flaw and/or heavy traffic on the bridge.
Antonio Brencich, a structural engineer who lectures at the University of Genoa wrote in 2016 that it could be more economical to rebuild the bridge because of ongoing maintenance costs. He wrote:
“There are errors in this bridge. Sooner or later, it will have to be replaced. I don’t know when”
Since the bridge collapse, the Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli has called for resignations at the Italian highways agency which operated the bridge. He wrote in a Facebook post:
“The top management of Autostrade per l’Italia must step down first of all.”
He also said the entire infrastructure urgently needs both regular and extraordinary maintenance to avoid another tragedy. He said:
“The absurd disaster could and should have been avoided”.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has also taken in interest in the resignations of those who were responsible for the collapse and has said he would:
“do everything to get the names and surnames of the managers responsible.”
Autostrade per I’talia has been heavily criticised since the disaster and the government has accused them of prioritising profits over safety. The government has also threatened to terminate the company’s contracts and impose heavy fines.
Autostrade per I’talia insists it has performed according to its contract and the law. They say checks were carried out quarterly by world-leading experts and these had shown no cause for alarm.
The investigation continues.