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Genoa's new bridge puts spotlight on how Italy can manage recovery

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Genoa's new bridge puts spotlight on how Italy can manage recovery

By Francesca Landini and James Mackenzie

 

2020-08-02T183729Z_1_LYNXMPEG710BX_RTROPTP_4_ITALY-BRIDGE.JPG

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the Genoa bridge as engineers perform static testing operations ahead of its inauguration in Genoa, Italy, July 19, 2020. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

 

MILAN (Reuters) - Just two years after part of Genoa's Morandi bridge collapsed killing 43 people, a new structure opens in its place on Monday, an achievement in stark contrast to stalled infrastructure projects elsewhere in Italy.

 

The new kilometre-long bridge, designed by star architect Renzo Piano, replaces the old motorway viaduct which broke apart in the port city on Aug. 14, 2018 in one of Italy's worst civil disasters in decades.

 

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who will attend the inauguration of the new Genova-San Giorgio viaduct said it would be a "symbol of a new Italy rising up again."

 

The accident laid bare years of mismanagement and poor maintenance and set off an acrimonious battle between the government and Atlantia's Autostrade per l'Italia, the private concession holder controlled by the powerful Benetton family that ran the bridge.

 

Several former and current executives of Autostrade and transport ministry officials have been placed under investigation by prosecutors and, after months of wrangling, Atlantia is set to lose control of its lucrative subsidiary.

 

For the mayor of Genoa and state-appointed commissioner for bridge reconstruction, Marco Bucci, the case is both an example of decades-long failures in Italy's transport infrastructure and a demonstration of what the country is capable of accomplishing.

 

"There's a feeling of both regret for what happened and pride in the work that's been done," he told Reuters. "We've worked and shown Italian excellence."

For years, Italy's economy has suffocated under a mix of poor governance made worse by corruption and a thicket of vested interests and bureaucracy that have stifled innovation and fostered the kind of neglect that led to the bridge disaster.

 

Genoa itself, surrounded by rugged hills that constrain road transport, has seen a motorway bypass project held up for decades.

 

With the coronavirus crisis still unfolding and billions of euros set to come to Italy from Europe's newly agreed recovery fund, addressing such failures has gained a new urgency.

 

As well as the shocking human toll, the collapse of the Morandi bridge dealt a severe economic blow to Genoa, costing the city an estimated 6 million euros (5.4 million pounds) a day in lost revenues and additional costs, Bucci said, with freight traffic interrupted for months.

 

Under heavy pressure to address the neglect which caused the disaster, the government pushed through an emergency decree to sweep aside red tape. Between demolishing the remainder of the old structure in Feb. 2019 to opening the new bridge 18 months later, the speed of the project has been breakneck in a country with crumbling roads and tunnels and development plans gathering dust.

 

While the circumstances behind the bridge collapse were unique, a lot rides on repeating that momentum elsewhere.

 

Trust and clear project goals - two things that have often been lacking in big infrastructure projects - were vital, said Roberto Carpaneto, head of RINA Consulting, who worked with the construction consortium led by Italian infrastructure groups Webuild and Fincantieri.

 

"Being able to say what was going to happen, when and why allowed us to build this relation of trust," he said.

 

(Editing by Alexandra Hudson and John Stonestreet)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-08-03
 
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Pretty good article. The old bridge looked unreal, like an accident waiting to happen, and it was. I'd like to see the new one in person. But with Covid, Italy's public debt has gone from about 132% of annual GDP, to around 160%. And the political system just doesn't make sense in a modern democracy. I guess they will get by, but there is going to be a lot of drama to come, as always in Italy.

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It is amazing when you get rid of corruption, crazy self-serving bureaucracy and over-compensating legal environment how quickly things get built and how cheaply!

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Posted (edited)

There is no Italy.

Only a Nothern ( Lombardia, + former Austrian provinces), a middle ( Katholic state) and a southern ( in fact Greek) federation. Ask "Mr Selfini", when he was only "preaching" for Liga Nord.

Italy as country, which has been a problem since the state was founded in 1861. The poor, corrupt south versus the prosperous, industrialized north, connected in the middle former Katholic State. By merging the northern areas under Austrian influence with the Ecclesiastical State and the Kingdom of both Sicilies, a country was created that never became a unity. From day one, the cultural and economic differences between the north and the south hampered Italy's development.
All attempts in the last 160 years to reduce the differences between north and south have, on balance, yielded nothing. The south has remained poor and corrupt. Crime syndicates have penetrated into all sections of society and appear to be controlling healthcare. More public money to the south means more income for the mafia, the camorra and the 'ndrangheta.

Edited by puipuitom
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1 hour ago, puipuitom said:

There is no Italy.

Only a Nothern ( Lombardia, + former Austrian provinces), a middle ( Katholic state) and a southern ( in fact Greek) federation. Ask "Mr Selfini", when he was only "preaching" for Liga Nord.

Italy as country, which has been a problem since the state was founded in 1861. The poor, corrupt south versus the prosperous, industrialized north, connected in the middle former Katholic State. By merging the northern areas under Austrian influence with the Ecclesiastical State and the Kingdom of both Sicilies, a country was created that never became a unity. From day one, the cultural and economic differences between the north and the south hampered Italy's development.
All attempts in the last 160 years to reduce the differences between north and south have, on balance, yielded nothing. The south has remained poor and corrupt. Crime syndicates have penetrated into all sections of society and appear to be controlling healthcare. More public money to the south means more income for the mafia, the camorra and the 'ndrangheta.

You've certainly got a grip on the history. The north really is the legacy of the barbarian kingdoms of the 5th to 9th centuries. Lazio and the center is what is left of the Papal States, and the south still exudes the spirit of Magna Graecia, but with a level of corruption that goes beyond anything Greece was noted for. I spent a lot of time in the south last year, and there has been a lot of modernization, but it's true that industrialization seems forever beyond its grasp. But as a selfish visitor I hope the south doesn't change, there is nothing like it in the world. But at the same time I want the country to pull through. And I like Salvini, whatever that makes me.

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