The Morandi Bridge and La Val Polcevera

Manuel Gausa

I- The Morandi Bridge, The Fragility Of An Unappreciated Heritage

Many readers will no doubt have crossed on more than one occasion – and not without a certain vertigo – the Morandi bridge, no longer standing, from France en route to the center or south of Italy. It was an almost obligatory stretch of the A10 motorway that many Genoese used several times a week because of its crucial role in urban mobility.

The Morandi bridge was a beautiful structure designed by the engineer who gave it its name: it was an elegant, slender, very high bridge, on par with other top global engineering works such as those of Maillart, Freyssinet or Torroja, and it had become an icon and an authentic part of the city’s modern heritage, despite not always being well accepted by the city’s inhabitants.

Built between 1963 and 1967 by the Italian company Condotte d’Acqua, the bridge had a length of 1.18 kilometers, a height of 45 meters and three large A-shaped concrete supports that reached 90 meters. The length of the main span was 210 meters.

To cover the large span of the bridge, the engineer Morandi designed an optimized structure in reinforced and prestressed concrete. The bridge cables were also coated in prestressed concrete, with the main purpose of protecting them from the elements (an innovative constructive solution that the engineer had successfully tested in other international projects but that was later revealed to be quite complex).

The most characteristic and original part of the viaduct consisted of the three central supports, in the form of a “sawhorse”. Each of these supports had two different structures: first, one in the form of a quadruple H that supported the base; and a second structure shaped like a double A, 90 meters in height, that supported the four cable braces and the road surfaces, in sections of 150 meters in length.

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