Italy to spend billions on highways after Genoa disaster

Vehicles drive across the new San Giorgio bridge in Genoa, following its reopening for traffic
Vehicles drive across the new San Giorgio bridge in Genoa, following its reopening for traffic in August 2020. It was built after the deadly collapse of a viaduct in 2018. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)
Italy will invest some 13.6 billion euros on a multi-year plan to upgrade the safety of its highways after the 2018 Genoa bridge disaster, the transport ministry said on Friday.

Motorway operator ASPI, which is moving into public hands, will foot the entire bill after signing a deal with the ministry, a ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The deal covers a period until 2038, but 2.5 billion euros are earmarked for urgent maintenance work to be completed by 2024, and another 1.2 billion euros for projects in and around Genoa.

ASPI, which stands for Autostrade per l’Italia, previously agreed to also pay 3.4 billion euros in compensation related to the bridge disaster in the northwestern port city.

Three years ago, Italy was stunned by the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, a tragedy that killed 43 people and highlighted the decaying state of national infrastructure.

It also exposed ASPI, which at the time was privately owned, to accusations that it skimped on maintenance of the bridge to maximise its profits.

A pre-trial judge is looking at various charges, including manslaughter and negligence, against 59 people investigated for the disaster, including ASPI’s former bosses.

READ ALSO: Italian police arrest six in connection with Genoa bridge collapse

At a hearing Friday, the transport ministry and the office of Prime Minister Mario Draghi joined the proceedings with a civil suit for damages, the ministry said in a statement.

ASPI used to be controlled by the Benetton family, also known for their clothing brand. After the collapse, they came under strong pressure to leave the highways business.

In June, the family’s Atlantia holding company agreed to sell its 88-percent stake in ASPI to a consortium led by Italian state investment bank CDP.

The deal is expected to be finalised over the coming months.


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