GENOA: Engineering experts determined in February that corrosion of the metal cables supporting the Genoa highway bridge had reduced the bridge’s strength by 20 percent — a finding that came months before it collapsed last week, an Italian newsmagazine reported Monday.
Despite the findings, Espresso wrote that “neither the ministry, nor the highway company, ever considered it necessary to limit traffic, divert heavy trucks, reduce the roadway from two to one lanes or reduce the speed” of vehicles on the key artery for the northern port city.
A large section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed Aug. 14 during a heavy downpour, killing 43 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 600 people living in apartment buildings beneath another section of the bridge. Prosecutors are focusing their investigation into the cause of the bridge’s collapse on possible faulty maintenance or design flaws but have not identified any targets.
After workers heard creaking noises coming from the part of the bridge that was still standing, firefighters suspended an operation to allow evacuated residents to retrieve their belongings from apartments under the bridge.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported that officials have ruled out that the sound could be caused by wind, and that more checks are underway.
Firefighters on the ground confirmed the reports but declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media. Work continued to clear the tons of bridge debris that cascaded onto a dry riverbed below.
In its report, Espresso cited the minutes of a meeting of the Genoa public works superintendent, which included Roberto Ferrazza, an architect named to head a government commission looking into the disaster, and Antonio Brencich, an engineer who has been outspoken about the bridge’s flaws.
Former Transport Minister Graziano Delrio told a news conference Monday that “no one ever signalled the necessity of limiting traffic” on the bridge.
Espresso reporter Fabrizio Gatti told SKY TG24 that a reduction of 20 percent strength would not be significant in a modern bridge, but on a structure with the known defects of the Morandi Bridge it should have merited swifter, more decisive action.