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Report: Experts Knew of Corrosion on Morandi Cables

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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More than a week after the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, new reports indicate that experts found corrosion on the cables of the bridge months prior to the disaster. Several hundred people have also been evacuated from residences around the base of the bridge, as concerns over the stability of the structure are still running high.

In February, experts reported that the damage to the bridge had weakened the structure by 20 percent. There seemed to be no significant safety adjustments, however, as none of the entities involved, including the ministry or the highway company, ordered traffic limitations.

Bridge Collapse, Previous Reports

On Aug. 14, lightning struck the Morandi Bridge, part of a thunderstorm with recorded 35-mile-per-hour winds. The cable-stayed concrete bridge, known as the Polcevera Viaduct and completed in 1968, was designed by Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi. According to website Retrofutur, the bridge is characterized, as are other Morandi structures, by thin prestressed concrete girders and relatively few stays.

At the time of the incident, authorities thought a structural weakness was responsible for the collapse. Since then, new reports have to come to light. In 2012, the leader of Genoa's business federation noted that the bridge could collapse within 10 years. In 2011, a report from Autostrade per l'Italia, the operator of the A10 highway that ran over the bridge, warned of intense decay.

In 2016, Antonio Brencich, an engineering professor at the University of Genoa, warned that the bridge would have to be replaced eventually. Former Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said no one had indicated the importance of imposing traffic limitations on the bridge.

Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s transport minister, announced after the collapse that there would be a comprehensive review of the country’s infrastructure, and that repairs would be made, though it would be a long, expensive endeavor. Along with transportation experts, Toninelli emphasized that much of the country’s infrastructure was built in the 1950s and ’60s, if not earlier, and much of it is beginning to show its age.

Currently, Italy does not have a third-party authority overseeing the condition of its infrastructure, but in 2001, a law mandated that all relevant entities compile a registry of the infrastructure they maintain. This registry still does not exist, though some progress has been made.

Corroded Cables, Creaking Bridge Concerns

The integrity of the remaining structure is still a concern, as creaking along the east end was heard on Monday (Aug. 20) morning. According to fire services, the sound was not caused by the wind. In response, 600 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and were stopped from returning for their belongings.

Technical teams went in to check the remnants earlier this week. If fire services find that there is sufficient danger, prosecutors are reportedly ready to order the destruction of the remaining sections of the bridge.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that the government was considering nationalizing Autostrade per l'Italia; other government officials want to revoke the company’s license. In response to the disaster, Autostrade announced that it would be lifting tolls from Genoa’s highway network until the bridge is repaied.

Out of those evacuated, the elderly and those with families are the first on the list to be offered alternate housing—the first five homes have already been assigned.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; EU; Europe; Fatalities; Government; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management

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