Morandi: Bridges and Italy’s troubled waters.

Il Ponte Morandi (the Morandi Bridge) in Genoa, Italy was a landmark bridge on the A10 Autostrada across the Polcevera viaduct. It was one of the main road links between Italy and France and part of the European route E80. On 14 Aug 18 at 11:36 am local time, a large section of it came crashing down, taking the lives of 43 people with it and permanently displacing over 600 others who lived below the bridge. It is set to be demolished within a month of this writing, along with the buildings below it, which are large apartment blocks and a few industries. The cause of the collapse is currently under investigation, with 20 people so far having been indicted for manslaughter over the incident, including government ministers of infrastructure. Lack of maintenance is widely held to be the cause of the collapse.

Spending on infrastructure in much of Europe has dramatically dropped since the 2008 financial crisis. A witness at a bus stop (article in Italian) described the moment the bridge collapsed, saying she saw the tie-rods snap simultaneously, making the carriageway rise up, and then the span broke, collapsing the entire section. Fingers were immediately pointed at the Autostrade Company, a private Italian contractor owned by the Benneton family, who oversaw the maintenance of the bridge, and from then on fingers were pointing everywhere – at the government, at the EU, at anyone who could possibly be blamed.

The chart of the event shows several very striking features, as follows:

  • Pluto in partile square to the horizon of the event chart from the 3rd house
  • Pluto is parallel the ascendant
  • The Moon and Saturn are in a partile square, from the 3rd and 12th houses, resp.
  • The Moon and Saturn are also parallel
  • Eris is within a degree of a square to the meridian axis
  • The meridian axis within a degree of the Mars/Pluto midpoint, the latter straddling the 4th house cusp
  • There is a Mars/Uranus square from the 4th and 7th houses, resp.
  • Neptune is at the midpoint of the Mars/Uranus square

These bullet points are enough to get us started. On the day of the collapse there was a downpour – a thunderstorm – and lightning actually hit the span of the bridge that collapsed. There was heavy traffic on the bridge that day and construction workers had been adding heavy concrete Jersey barriers on the bridge in the days before. The bridge was under increased stress and probably overloaded as a result. Bridges are ruled by the 3rd house in general and Saturn is in the 3rd house of the event chart. Saturn, ruling structures in general, as well as weight, also squares the Moon, the latter ruling the Midheaven. The Sabian symbol for the degree of the Moon is rather interesting: “At the dawn of a new day, everything is changed.” (3 Cancer). That 3rd degree of Cancer is also in the Chinese 21st Xiu (lunar mansion), which can be associated with disasters. And in this case, the Moon represents the authorities, ruling the 10th house as it does. Saturn, ruling structures, indicated how the day would be changed in this instance.

The catastrophic nature of the event is shown by the two squares to the angles of the chart (above) and the nature of the planets making those squares – Pluto and Eris – as well as the midpoints listed, especially the Neptune=Mars/Uranus midpoint. A particular point of interest here is that this midpoint structure can indicate car accidents. The Mars/Pluto=Midheaven midpoint is also quite indicative, indicating the possibility of being placed in a situation of being powerless in the face overwhelming force. And finally, there is a minor midpoint, Sun=Mars/Neptune, indicating disintegration and weakened structures. The bridge was in a worsening state of disrepair. It was a perfect storm (no pun intended) of astrological factors.

The fallout from the event has brought to light many insufficiencies in both Italian and EU policies. But the largest part of the blame lies within Italy itself. There have been 10 bridge collapses in the past five years in Italy due to a combination of mismanagement, having outlived their due date (the average life of a bridge is 50 years), poor construction materials, and the biggest single problem, arguably: politics, which changes like the weather here in Italy. This, coupled with another problem: corruption. These collapses are a testament to crumbling infrastructure, characterized by Pluto in Capricorn, which is now bringing these matters more fully into light. Speaking of the problems with infrastructure in Italy, as to the roads specifically:

The problem is that the system [of road management] is characterized by a duopoly that operates without European tenders and outside the competition provided for by EU directives. Almost 70% of the management of the approximately 7,000 km of motorways has been divided into two groups for years: the Atlantia Group (Benetton), which controls Autostrade per l’Italia and manages over 3,000 kilometers, and the Gavio Group, which manages over 1,200 kilometers. Together they cover around three quarters of the market.

The current government wrote off safety concerns and major infrastructure projects when they entered office this year, only to turn around after the bridge collapse and try to make political capital of the disaster, blaming everyone else for what happened. It would appear that major infrastructure projects, aside from costing a lot of money, also inconvenience people, which were the reasons given by the government for writing off the projects that were on the books, citing the need to re-examine the costs involved – ‘reexamine’ here probably meaning cutting costs even further, given the current economic predicament in Italy. Bridge collapses and lost relatives also cause not a little inconvenience and cost. The families of the victims of the tragedy deserve compensation at the very least. And then there is the problem with the displaced people who now have to find housing. Surely they will demand compensation, too. The Morandi Bridge collapse was an international incident as well, with people from eight other nations losing their lives in the event. The area around the bridge has been declared a disaster area for a year. But, these problems are not simply unique to Italy. In nations where key infrastructure is not nationalized and vulnerable to the whims of short-term and short-sighted politics and privatization, the problem is worse. Go here if you want to see how your nation scores.

There has been a suggestion that the bridge may have been brought down by sabotage (the video is in Italian). We always hear such things with disasters these days, but if the eyewitness account is anything to go by, sabotage is doubtful. Pluto square the horizon can be an indicator of sabotage, along with the midpoint involving the Midheaven (above), but neglect (Saturn) is more likely the cause, along with overloading of the roadway. There were several factors in play that day – heavy weather, corrosion of the steel (there were corrosion tracks on the concrete), a possible microburst, even the design of the bridge itself. That particular design is no longer used because of safety concerns. There was a similar bridge in Venezuela designed by the same man (Morandi) that collapsed as well when a heavy truck hit one of the stays. Large disasters are most often caused by a string of smaller events that all contribute to the end result. People had been warning about the state of decay (also Saturn) of the bridge for years, yet little was done to address it. If there was sabotage, it was more likely ‘sabotage by neglect’. The case and the investigations will probably go on for years. Meanwhile, the lone Volvo truck for Basko Supermarkets that was on the edge of the section still standing will remain burned in people’s memories for years. I hope the driver had a fresh change of clothes handy that day. The victims and their families deserve a thorough and open investigation, leading to reforms and proper maintenance of infrastructure.

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