GENOA, Italy — Since the dramatic and deadly collapse of the Morandi bridge over the Italian port of Genoa two years ago, builders have worked around the clock, through a judicial investigation and the coronavirus pandemic, so a new bridge could open on time.
Designed by a native son of the city, architect Renzo Piano, and built in a record 15 months, the new Genoa San Giorgio bridge, whose inauguration is Monday, has become a matter of pride for Genoa and all of Italy, a symbol of their can-do spirit.
Yet residents and business owners say the accomplishment will hardly cure the pains of the city, which was shrinking — economically, demographically and culturally — even before the collapse, which killed 43 people on Aug. 14, 2018.
The loss of one of the city’s main arteries and its fastest east-west connection compounded all those problems, devastating businesses and paralyzing life. Today many in Genoa are still suffering and lament that the new bridge will not be enough to overcome the absence of a broad, long-term vision to revive their city.
Although the government and the company that manages the bridge, Autostrade per l’Italia, or Highways for Italy, gave aid to dozens of businesses in the area to help them stay afloat, many had to relocate or remained cut off from the rest of Genoa.
“I lost 50% of my business with the collapse; my patients who lived across the bridge could no longer get here,” said Dr. Fabio Bertoldi, a veterinarian whose office is about 300 yards north of the bridge.
“Now I even bike to work,” said Bertoldi, who lives about 15 miles away. If he drove, he added, “It would take me three hours to get here with the construction on the highway.”
A surge of long-overdue infrastructure work has further snarled traffic. For many of those who live in Genoa, then, the opening of the new bridge is at best bittersweet.
“We are glad for the new bridge, built so fast, and the maintenance on the highways, but it all also leaves us a bitter feeling,” said Egle Possetti, spokeswoman for a committee commemorating the victims’ families. “Had they done it before, our relatives might have been alive.” Possetti’s sister, brother-in-law, young nephew and niece were killed when the bridge fell.