At least 39 dead in Italy bridge collapse, as public, government search for answers
- The death toll from the Genoa Morandi bridge collapse this week in Genoa, Italy, has risen to 39, and the public is looking to the bridge maintenance contractor, the European Union's alleged meager funding and Italy's construction industry for answers amid doubts about the structural integrity of hundreds of other bridges in Italy, according to The Telegraph.
- Inadequate investment and maintenance are to blame, some Italian lawmakers said, as is substandard quality, allegedly as a result of mafia-related construction industry corruption. There are as many as 300 bridges, viaducts and tunnels in Italy that are at risk of failure. Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister pointed to the EU's spending limits as a possible reason for the poor state of the country's infrastructure, but EU officials fired back that Italy receives billions of euros each year for such investments. Italian engineers said many of the country's bridges are nearing or past their useful lifespan.
- Some in the Italian government are blaming the collapse on the private contractor charged with maintenance, Autostrade per l'Italia. The company is in charge of maintaining the Morandi bridge, as well as much of Italy's other transportation infrastructure. Some critics have said the company did not invest enough in maintenance in an effort to increase profits. According to ANSA General News, Autostrade reported in 2011 that the bridge was in a state of decay and that "queues of cars and the volume of traffic provoke intense decay of the Morandi viaduct structure on a daily basis in the rush hours as it is subject to major demands."
The question of bridge integrity and lack of funding also is a big issue in the U.S. According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, 9% of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient, based on data from the Department of Transportation's National Bridge inventory database. ARTBA also said that 30% of the country's bridges, including interstate spans, need repairs. At the current rate of bridge maintenance and replacement, the association said it would take 37 years to perform all the necessary work. According to a separate report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it would take $123 billion to upgrade, repair or replace old bridges.
The state of America's bridges has improved during the past decade, but more bridges, as they are in Italy, are approaching 50 years of age, typically considered the end of useful life.
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