Genoa’s wound has not yet healed for many

Lena Klimkeit –

She didn’t lose her life on that bridge, but it changed everything for her. When Iris Bonacci recalls the devastating collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, she seems so agitated that it feels as if it has just happened. Yet it has been a year since the seemingly unshakeable viaduct collapsed and killed 43 people. That was on August 14, 2018. And since then, nothing in Genoa has been the same.
The 56-year-old teacher lived in an apartment right under the Morandi Bridge. From her balcony she could see the mighty supporting pillars and the roadway above. They were like a second roof over her head. “My home no longer exists,” says Bonacci.
Since last year she has been living with her partner in another apartment and has received compensation. But that can’t bring back what has been lost: memorabilia, her daily routine, her neighbours. She was able to visit the apartment in May for the last time. At the end of June, the ruins of the bridge and the walls of her house merged together during a spectacular blast.
The demolition of the old bridge is almost complete. With it a memorial is disappearing, one that marked the terrible event. For months, the gaping gap between the two ends of the road represented the horror of August 14.
The construction of the new bridge is running in parallel to the demolition work. Barely a month had passed since the collapse when star architect Renzo Piano had already come up with a design for his hometown. He has pledged that this new bridge will last at least 1,000 years.
The question now is when the new construction will connect the city again. Marco Bucci, the mayor of the port city and special commissioner for reconstruction, says it will be April 15, 2020. The first pillar is almost finished. And it is there on Wednesday that the dead are to be commemorated. According to the news agency Ansa, 450 relatives of the victims are expected to attend the ceremony.
“The tragedy is something negative, but we have decided to seize the opportunity and use this phase to make Genoa
better than before,” Bucci says optimistically to Ansa.
Bucci is not afraid to give a date for the completion of the new bridge — even though he knows that it could always be postponed. “It’s important to set a goal,” he says. If there are good reasons for any delays, credibility won’t suffer, he says.
The timetable for the demolition also had to be adjusted again and again. For example, because asbestos was found in the bridge.
Demolition and reconstruction are not all that Genoa is waiting for, one year after the bridge collapsed. It’s also not clear when the legal proceedings connected with the disaster will be completed.
More than 70 people are being investigated, as is the motorway operator Autostrade per l’Italia, which is controlled by the Benetton family via the
Atlantia Group.
The question still remains whether the collapse of the bridge could have been prevented.
“The bridge collapsed because it could no longer stand on its legs. Like a person who dies a natural death,” said prosecutor Francesco Cozzi recently. “We must find out whether the bridge could have been saved, cured. And that’s what we’re going to look into with the investigation.”
The collapse of the bridge is still omnipresent in everyday life in Genoa, says Bonacci. However, the way it is being discussed has changed.
One of the main issues today is how the collapse will impact the road network. Industry and business associations estimate the damage caused to companies in the port city to amount to hundreds of millions of euros.
The Confesercenti association also noted that the reputation of the port among tourists had been affected.
The hope that normality would at least return to the streets had been linked to the rapid start of reconstruction. “But now the government has collapsed,” says Bonacci, referring to the current political crisis in Italy. — dpa