Genoa bridge trial opens four years after collapse

The remaining spans following the bridge collapse in 2018
The remaining spans following the bridge collapse in 2018

The prestressed concrete cable-stayed bridge collapsed on 14th August, 2018, killing 43 people. Investigations following the disaster revealed that the structure had been weakened by cracking of the concrete and corrosion of the steel tendons inside the cable stays.

The defendants now on trial face a range of charges including manslaughter, negligence and making false statements. They all deny the charges.

Among the most high-profile defendants is Giovanni Castellucci, chief executive of infrastructure group Atlantia, whose highways division, Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi) operated the bridge.  

Castellucci is accused of endangering safety on the roads and wilful failure to take precautions to prevent disasters. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Many of the other defendants worked for Aspi or for engineering company Spea, which had the maintenance contract for the Morandi bridge. Both companies have already reached out-of-court settlements with prosecutors.

Aspi has since been renationalised. Its current CEO, Roberto Tomasi, is on a prosecution list of 178 witnesses which also includes two former infrastructure ministers.

The trial officially opened on 7th July 2022 but was then adjourned for the summer. Proceedings are due to resume on 12th September and hearings are scheduled up to July 2023, although given the complexity of the case, sessions are expected to continue beyond that date.

Following the 2018 disaster, the old Morandi bridge was replaced with a new structure which was completed less than two years later.

The new bridge, designed by Genoa-born architect Renzo Piano, was built by Webuild and Fincantieri and handed over to the mayor of Genoa just 15 months after construction began.

Construction of its replacement took 420 days, from the laying of the first pier to the delivery of the completed bridge. Work took place around the clock every day – save for Christmas and a few days of bad weather – with more than 1,000 people representing 40 trades working in parallel at 20 work-fronts.

The new bridge was opened in August 2020
The new bridge was opened in August 2020

The 1,067m-long bridge is supported from 18 piers up to 45m high and has been built using 67,000m3 of reinforced concrete.

Nearly 330 companies from across Italy provided more than €160m (£144m) in supplies and services for the construction of the bridge, representing nearly 80% of the value of the project.

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