Laino Borgo, Calabria, Italy
850 feet high / 259 meters high
575 foot span / 175 meter span
The highest bridge in Italy, the Italia viaduct was the second highest bridge in the world upon its opening in 1974. It is still the highest steel beam bridge in the world and was the highest bridge in Europe for 30 years until France’s Millau Viaduct surpassed it in 2004. Only China’s concrete Liuguanghe is higher among all beam bridges. The viaduct is the highest among several impressive bridges along Italy’s spectacular Autostrada Napoli-Reggio Calabria or A3 motorway including the biggest and highest frame bridge in the world over Sfalassa gorge.
Soaring 850 feet (259 mtrs) above a deep cut over the Lao river, the Italia Viaduct lives up to its name with a very Italian-style steel box beam design. The central portion of the bridge consists of a continuous single beam of 1,394 feet (425 mtrs) spread over 3 spans including a central river span of 575 feet (175 mtrs). The 472 foot (144 meter) tall pier is Italy’s fourth highest. The Gorsexio and Sente bridges have higher piers of 541 feet (165 meters) as well as the Rago Viaduct at 482 feet (147 meters).
Among Italy’s many spectacular motorways, the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria has always had the biggest and greatest variety of high bridges. Constructed in a Frankenstein-like fashion in bits and pieces throughout the 1960s and 1970s, this laboratory of Italian civil engineering includes the aforementioned Sfalassa gorge strut frame bridge, the Favazzina viaduct (soon to be replaced) with its clothespin shaped piers as well as more conventional bridges like the Aglio concrete arch and the Coscile precast concrete girder bridge. In the Calabria region, near the Mediterranean coast, the lower end of the motorway is being widened and realigned to make it safer and less congested.
With 5 bridges that exceed 475 feet (145 meters) in height, the A3 is also the world’s third greatest high bridge highway. Only China’s Yichang to Zhongxian stretch of the West Hurong highway and the Guiyang-Kunming highways have a greater number with an astonishing 10 bridges exceeding 475 feet (145 meters) in height on the West Hurong highway.
Image by Martin Mergili (www.mergili.at)
Italia Viaduct satellite image.