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Plans to Replace Morandi Bridge Underway

Friday, December 21, 2018

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Demolition of Genoa’s Morandi Bridge began Saturday (Dec. 15), and well-known Italian architect Renzo Piano will be overseeing the structure’s replacement, his own design featuring 43 posts, each one honoring a victim of the collapse.

According to The Architects Newspaper, a new conglomerate, PERGENOVA, a joint venture between Salini Impregilo, the country’s largest contractor, and Fincantieri, a state-run shipbuilding company, will be formed to build the new bridge.

Bridge Collapse History

Late in the morning on Aug. 14, lightning struck the Morandi Bridge. At the time, 35-mile-per-hour winds were recorded with a thunderstorm moving through the area. A 200-meter (656-foot) section of the prestressed concrete span collapsed, creating a gulf between two sections of the bridge.

The cable-stayed concrete bridge, also known as the Polcevera Viaduct, completed in 1968, was designed by Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi. According to the website Retrofutur, the bridge is characterized, as are other Morandi structures, by thin prestressed concrete girders and relatively few stays. Three A-shaped concrete pylons hold four prestressed stays apiece. The website has chronicled numerous projects over the years to reinforce the structure, including steel sheaths over the concrete pylons.

While experts believe that structural weakness contributed to the collapse, previous warnings about the condition of the bridge were issued years before disaster struck. For example, 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.

Morandi penned his warning partially due to the perplexity of the degradation problem—the amount of corrosion that the bridge exhibited even early on wasn't seen on similar structures in different environmental circumstances. At the end of August, Piano offered to help design a replacement structure signifying rebirth and redemption for the affected area.

In late November, testing of bridge debris began, which will help determine what caused the collapse.

Piano’s Design

The bridge will have a 3,600-foot-long main steel deck running across 20 spans, supported by 19 piers placed at 164-foot increments. The exception is a set of piers that will be set 328 feet apart to account for the Polcevera River. Solar energy stored during the day will power the bridge’s lights at night, and lamps honoring the victims of the original collapse—43 in total—will cast light shaped like a ship’s sails.

Steel elements will be provided by Fincantieri, from its Genoa-Sestri Ponente shipyard, with work being distributed to other shipyards as necessary. The steel deck will be assembled in parts on-site.

According to The New York Times, the Italian government decided to exclude Autostrade per l’Italia from the project. Once the site is cleared, construction work is slated to take twelve months, the project costing $229 million. A trial against Autostrade per l’Italia is slated to start sometime next year.



Tagged categories: Bridges; EU; Europe; Government; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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