Arriving at the edge of the cordoned off zone, the police guard all access points to what remains of the motorway bridge leading out of Genoa.
The surrounding streets are eerily quiet. All roads surrounding the bridge have been closed, all residents living below and around the Polcevera Viaduct, more familiarly known as Morandi bridge, have been evacuated and told they may never be able to return to their homes.
With bright blue skies above, and mountains rising magnificently in the background the air is still and it is hard to believe that thunderstorms battered this area just two days before.
In contrast to the picturesque late Italian summer setting is the harsh marine environment with concrete industrial looking buildings, brown corrosion stains on their surface.
Rescue workers with hard hats, climbing gear and cutting equipment come and go in fortified four-by-fours. Helicopters and drones fly over the wreckage and sirens punctuate the silence.
The world’s media has descended on the area and only journalists are allowed to pass onto the Via Renata Bianchi bridge, which affords a clear view of the foreboding wreckage above and below in the distance.
The remaining two towers of the Morandi bridge can be seen around 300m away on the east side of a dry river bed. The twisted remains of the 250m long section lie below, with what appears to be a 15m section of the four lane road deck lodged in the river valley.
The deck must have mostly fallen out of view or broken up into smaller sections on impact, as the debris that can be seen form this vantage point does not seem to be enough to fill the vast gap which has been left above.
Looking down Via Giorgio Perlasca road on the eastern side of where I’m standing, the wreckage of the tower is just visible. Around 15m sections of the tower legs are heaped in a vast pile of rubble. What look like post-tensioning cables can be seen draping from one of the exposed faces of the concrete.
Two mobile cranes are helping with the rescue effort and peckers can be heard hammering away, trying to break up the larger lumps of concrete.
Looking up to the remaining towers, the deck of what should have been the middle pier now stands isolated on one side.
It is clear that the bridge deck has failed along its joint lines as the end of the still in place deck section is neat. The two still-standing piers look stable and no deflection of the remaining deck tip can be seen. Anchor blocks for the cable stays at deck level are still attached to the remaining towers with no signs of distress, although the twisted remains of the parapet can be seen hanging off the end.
Maintenance inspection platforms can be seen underneath the bridge deck at the point of the haunch on the underside of the deck.
Remains of Polcevera Viaduct
At the top of what was the middle pier, steel housing for the concrete-encased main stays are brown and rusted.
Looking further east at the end pier, it is clear that work has taken place to strengthen the main stays. Black cables run alongside the original stays and over new grey saddles at the top of the tower.
The bases of the remaining piers are not visible. Looking north west, the other side of the collapsed bridge can be seen. Telecommunication wires hang down from the collapsed face.
Trucks and cars that narrowly escaped the fall still remain on top of the deck in a haunting reminder of the tragedy that occurred.
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