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Fri July 19 2024

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Italians present proposal for Baltimore bridge replacement

3 May The Italian construction company that rebuilt Genoa's collapsed Ponte Morandi has submitted pro bono designs to replace Baltimore’s collapsed bridge.

Proposal for new cable stay bridge across the Patapsco River in Baltimore, designed by Carlo Ratti and Michel Virlogeux
Proposal for new cable stay bridge across the Patapsco River in Baltimore, designed by Carlo Ratti and Michel Virlogeux

Webuild and its US subsidiary Lane have come up with designs for a cable-stayed structure to replace Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed in March with the loss of six lives.

The Italian contractor said that it was giving its plans for free to the relevant authorities “as a sign of solidarity and friendship with the United States”.

The preliminary proposal was drafted in collaboration with architect Carlo Ratti, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux, who designed the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon and the Millau Viaduct in France.

"We at Webuild and our US subsidiary Lane are ready to make ourselves available to quickly restore this strategic bridge for local mobility," said Webuild chief executive Pietro Salini in a letter sent with the designs to the US secretary of transportation, the governor of Maryland, the director of the Maryland Port Administration and the US ambassador to Italy.

“We are aware of the importance of this infrastructure from a logistical and commercial point of view, with more than 1.4 million local residents and tens of thousands of commuters directly affected by the collapse of the bridge,” Salini said. “We previously fielded our expertise on the occasion of the tragic collapse of the Genoa Bridge in Italy in 2018 (made at cost without profit for the group), which resulted in the death of 43 people and complete standstill of in the city and the Port, among the most important in Italy,” Salini added.

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Webuild worked round the clock to build the new Genoa Bridge in about a year, despite the restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Webuild’s proposal for Baltimore includes a cable-stayed bridge designed to ensure safety for navigation, even for larger ships. It is assumed, for example, that the navigable clearance, the space that a ship can occupy to pass under the bridge, will be 213 feet (65 metres), which is much greater than that of the collapsed bridge; but also that the bridge span will be enlarged to about 2,300 feet (700 metres), with the main pylons positioned in shallower water, away from the navigation channel. A wider carriageway is also proposed, with the increase of one lane in each direction and the widening of emergency lanes, in response to the increased traffic levels on the bridge.

“Opting for a cable-stayed solution enables the piles to be positioned at a safe distance, well away from the navigation channel used by large vessels and hence preventing the risk of a tragedy such as the one of 26th March happening again. This approach also provides a light-weight solution to reconnect two sides of Baltimore, both socially and economically – what American infrastructure should be striving to do in the 21st century," said Carlo Ratti, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding partner of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati.

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