Gian Michele Calvi, Matteo Moratti, Gerard J. O’Reilly, Nicola Scattarreggia, Ricardo Monteiro, Daniele Malomo, Paolo Martino Calvi & Rui Pinho (2018): Once upon a Time in Italy: The Tale of the Morandi Bridge, Structural Engineering International, DOI: 10.1080/10168664.2018.1558033
On 14 August 2018 at 11:35 AM, a relevant portion (about 243 m) of the viaduct over the Polcevera river in Genoa collapsed, killing 43 people. The bridge was designed in the early 1960s by Riccardo Morandi, a well-known Italian engineer, and opened to the public in 1967. The collapsed part of the bridge essentially comprised an individual self-standing structure spanning 171 m and two simply-supported connecting Gerber beam systems, each spanning 36 m from the self-standing structure to the adjacent portions of the bridge. This paper aims to reminisce the complete story of the bridge, from the Italian construction boom in the 1960s to some of the issues that soon arose thereafter: the strengthening intervention in the 1990s, the subsequent structural monitoring and, finally, the strengthening project never brought to fruition. Potential reasons for the collapse are discussed, together with some of the possible inadequacies of the bridge, its maintenance and loading history based on critical reflection, comparison with specific features of bridge construction practice today and results obtained using numerical models with different levels of refinement. Since the entire matter (specifically the debris) was considered classified by the investigating magistrate in the immediate aftermath of the bridge collapse, this work is based entirely on publicly available material.