These are the words of the managing director of RFI Maurizio Gentile that in the afternoon of Friday 8 November he took part in the reopening ceremony of the Ponte San Michele.
As announced, the viaduct was made accessible to vehicles about a month earlier than the initial time trial.
"This is a symbolic moment in that it shows on the one hand how the State intervenes in favor of its citizens, on the other because it confirms once again how the first aspect to be taken into account is safety – declared the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Paola De Micheli -. We know that there is a strong demand from the territory for the construction of a new bridge and for this reason we will try to find the most suitable solutions to this problem ".
Accessible by vehicles weighing less than 35 quintals and widths below 2.20 meters, the infrastructure will allow the inhabitants of the island to reach the Meratese area again in a short time, thus reducing the inconvenience caused by the closure.
"It is an important step because on the one hand it allows us to bring the population closer to normality, on the other it allows us to increase substitute services" noted the regional transport councilor Claudia Maria Terzi.
Satisfied with the objective achieved, Gentile also confirmed RFI's support for the candidacy of Ponte San Michele as well Unesco: "We will be at the side of the administrators to carry out this challenge that looks to the future – said the Abruzzo manager -. With the mayors and with the Lombardy Region we intend to schedule a meeting so that we can discuss about the creation of a new route ".
Numerous authorities were present for the occasion, including the President of RFI Claudia Cattani, the Prefect of Bergamo Elisabetta Margiacchi, the mayor of Paderno d’Adda Gianpaolo Torchio, the first citizen of Calusco d’Adda Michele Pellegrini which underlined the importance for the area of reopening the viaduct.
"It is a day of joy because today we allow commercial activities and not just to return to normal – stressed Pellegrini -. This bridge in the future will not be able to adequately support the viability of the area and for this reason it is necessary to work for the realization of an alternative route.
The total amount of the works is around 21.6 million euros, of which 1.6 million are financed by the Lombardy Region.
Several new features have been introduced, including the activation of a series of shuttles that will allow commuters to cross the bridge and reach the stations of Calusco and Paderno-Robbiate in just over 20 minutes.
Pending the total re-opening of the section, the bus service provided by Trenord, while in the period between midnight on Tuesday 12 November and 04.30 on Friday 15 November the infrastructure will be subject to a new closure during night time.
"The opening to the San Michele Bridge cars on Friday 8 November and the advance to September 2020 for the railway line are a relief for commuters and travelers. A much desired, requested and finally achieved result by RFI and the workers with good institutional collaboration. An event that proudly completes an important day for the viability of our province, after the announcement of the financing for the Val Brembana tramway, which will radically change Bergamo mobility – state parliamentarians Elena Carnevali, Maurizio Martina and Antonio Misiani of the Democratic Party -. After fourteen months of inconvenience for commuters and travelers in the Bergamo area, finally a crucial passage for the viability of a territory rich in businesses, productive activities and a crucial node for workers and commuter students reopens. We are satisfied with the speed with which RFI, the managing director Gentile and the companies have responded to the requests of mayors, committees and citizens. The opening of the railway line is today a closer goal. We are grateful to the Minister De Micheli for the availability he has shown these days in the Bergamo area, guaranteeing the Government's commitment to modernize and develop the works for a safer and more sustainable road system and ensuring the commitment of the State, through his Ministry, to maintain territorial competitiveness, economic development and concreteness in the works. Right the indication of the Minister De Micheli, who asked that there be a territorial sharing in the choice of the works, as regards the future of the new bridge in replacement of the current San Michele. Another job on which he secured the state's commitment. It is a day to be proud of as institutions and citizens ”.
"For Lombardy Region today is an important day considering that the territory has suffered a lot for the closure of this infrastructure – says the Regional Councilor for Infrastructure and Mobility Claudia Maria Terzi -. We found an important bank in RFI, while a thank you goes to those who worked to allow reopening before the hypothesized dates. After the pedestrian reopening, today we are here a month in advance for the reopening to vehicular traffic, while Rfi has confirmed the reactivation of the railway line in September 2020, two months earlier than the time schedule ". The ceremony was attended by Infrastructure Minister Paola De Micheli, Rfi CEO Maurizio Gentile, Paderno d’Adda and Calusco d’Adda mayors, local administrators and local parliamentarians.
“The Lombardy Region was immediately activated both with economic incentives for local businesses and with substitute services activated in collaboration with local mayors. The bus reserved for students will remain until the rail traffic is reopened, then we will add trains with a stop in Paderno and we will arrange for them to be coordinated from 15 December with the shuttle service that will still have to undergo alternate traffic". "Only with regard to the costs of replacement services – recalls Terzi – 1 million 800 thousand euros were spent in a year, partly financed directly by the Lombardy Region and partly by the State. For example the circular shuttles between the railway stations and the San Michele have been used monthly, for each side of the bridge, by 10/11 thousand people. We have also worked to find a solution that would allow us to find other shuttles able to cross the bridge, given the transit limits: this is a new opportunity that we provide to alleviate the inconveniences of commuters who, I remember, do not end today but will be overcome only with the reopening to the railway transit ".