Is Italy’s Lack of Spending in Infrastructure Responsible for Genoa Bridge Collapse?
Genoa's motorway collapses (Photo: twitter, DanieleRaineri)

An elevated-highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy and cars dropped 150 feet to the earth as a pillar supporting the bridge crumbled which caused a part of the bridge to go down with it. 35 people are reported dead and atleast 13 have been injured seriously.

It’s too early to know for certain what the causes are of this massive collapse but “signs of problems” had been observed on the Italian bridge for more than twenty years. The company managing the bridge had proposed shutting it down but as it serves as a vital link for the area, the administrators were reportedly looking at other options.

Much of Italy’s infrastructure — including viaducts and bridges were built in the 1950s and 1960s during the country’s post world war boom. They are now showing signs of age and neglect.

In a phone interview to New York Times, Antonio Occhiuzzi, director of the Institute for Construction Technology for Italy’s National Research Council, said that most of the nation’s infrastructure “needs to be carefully re-examined” because much “was at the end” of its useful life span. He added, “In some cases it can be reinforced, in other cases it will have to be demolished and rebuilt completely.”

Inhabitants of Italy’s historic capital Rome have repeatedly warned over the years that the city and the country’s infrastructure are in decline. The cause is complex – a toxic mix of corruption, debt, poor administration and the country’s longest bout of recession.

Italy as a spender has been the worst performer for infrastructure spending over the past 50 years among the top European Union countries. It seems the decision is coming home to roost to tragic consequences.

A survey by the European Commission in 2013 had placed Rome last out of 28 EU capitals in a ranking for the efficiency of city services. There has been no visible improvement since.

This crumbling infrastructure is directly impacting one of its main sources of revenue – tourism. Rubbish, bad transport and graffiti harm tourism – each year the city attracts around 10 million visitors but the rate of repeat visits is among the lowest in Europe.

Italy has a new government, they have got what they voted for – fresh faces who have promised change. But this inexperienced government faces a challenge of historic proportions – of fixing the country’s crumbling infrastructure.