Two years after the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, which caused the death of 43 people, the new bridge that has replaced it was inaugurated on Monday in the Ligurian city.
The new kilometer-long bridge is called Genoa San Giorgio Bridge and was built in 15 months. It was designed by Renzo Piano, the architect behind such iconic buildings as the Shard in London and Center Pompidou in Paris.
“Today is a very emotional day,” said Piano at the inauguration ceremony which also saw the participation of Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte. “I need to try and find the words because this bridge was born from tragedy.”
The Morandi bridge, which was one of the city's main arteries, collapsed on 14 August 2018 during a torrential rainstorm; the cars and trucks that were traveling along it fell into the dry riverbed below that contained buildings that had to be evacuated.
The names of the victims were read at the start of the ceremony. The victims’ families however boycotted the event and only agreed to meet Italy’s president Giorgio Mattarella privately.
Poor maintenance by Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), which runs almost half of Italy's motorway network, has been blamed as a possible cause for the collapse. There have been allegations of falsified safety reports and internal pressure to keep down maintenance costs.
Atlantia, the parent group of Autostrade, is controlled by the Benetton family, better known for their clothing business. Following what happened, the Benetton group will gradually exit Autostrade, which however will continue to manage the bridge, along with government bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which will replace Benetton with eventually a 51% stake in ASPI.
Relatives of the victims are angered that Autostrade will still be running the new structure. "There is nothing to celebrate in the reconstruction of a bridge that should never have collapsed," the Committee for the Relatives of the Victims of the Morandi Bridge wrote in a statement released on social media ahead of the inauguration.
The new bridge cost 200 million euros, plus the cost of demolishing the Morandi bridge, another 90 million euros. It features sail-like structures, in a nod to Genoa's maritime heritage.
“We are not here just to cut a ribbon,” said Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte during the ceremony. “It is not easy to simply celebrate because, as it was said before, the pain caused by the tragedy that happened here is too deep, too tangible.”
Watch the video of the inauguration ceremony below (in Italian).