Sunday, August 25, 2019

Last 2 towers of Genoa bridge that collapsed, killing 43, are demolished

  • >> Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times
    Published: 2019-06-29 10:34:33 BdST

The two remaining towers of a highway bridge in central Genoa that collapsed last year, killing 43 people, were demolished Friday, clearing the city’s skyline of a grim landmark and preparing for the reconstruction of a vital urban transport link.

The sound of three low, ominous sirens broadcast on national television preceded the detonation.

Experts set a series of controlled explosions that in less than a minute brought down the nearly 300-foot-tall concrete towers that supported the 1960s structure, known as the Morandi Bridge for its designer, famed engineer Riccardo Morandi. Its collapse Aug. 14 has become the subject of a criminal inquiry as well as a symbol of Italy’s failure to maintain its aging infrastructure and of shortcomings in how it has privatised roadways.

General view of Morandi Bridge, before controlled explosions will demolish two of its pylons almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa, Italy Jun 28, 2019. REUTERS

General view of Morandi Bridge, before controlled explosions will demolish two of its pylons almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa, Italy Jun 28, 2019. REUTERS

More than 1,300 pounds of explosives were mostly packed into the towers’ pylons. Demolition experts had prepared the site by creating lagoons to keep enormous clouds of concrete dust from spreading across the neighborhood.

The top politicians in Italy’s populist government — vice prime ministers Matteo Salvini of the League and Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement — did not miss the chance to be part of the day. They both viewed the momentous demolition from another bridge near the site, surrounded by a swarm of local politicians and authorities.

“To my knowledge, it is the first time that this kind of work has been done in so little time and in a city center, at least in Italy,” said Vittorio Omini, a demolition expert and owner of one of the companies that engineered the explosion as well as the dismantling of hundreds of feet of bridge deck and pylons that withstood last summer’s collapse.

Controlled explosions demolish two of the pylons of the Morandi bridge almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa, Italy Jun 28, 2019. REUTERS

Controlled explosions demolish two of the pylons of the Morandi bridge almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa, Italy Jun 28, 2019. REUTERS

About 600 nearby residents lost their homes in the collapse and were relocated with the financial support of Autostrade per l’Italia, or Highways for Italy, the private company that operated the bridge.

The reconstruction of the bridge, which kicked off Tuesday with the first pouring of concrete in the presence of Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s infrastructure and transportation minister, is already the subject of a dispute.

The new bridge has been designed by one of the city’s favorite sons, architect Renzo Piano, and a consortium of Italian contractors have pledged to complete construction in 12 months — a schedule that has drawn much scepticism. 

© 2019 New York Times News Service