GENOA, May 4, 2023 – Genoa is set to strengthen its role as a strategic hub for the Mediterranean. The laying of the first stone for a new breakwater was celebrated today, marking the start of work on a project unique in the world for its scale, engineering complexity and economic benefit to the city and the country’s economy. It is one the biggest strategic projects to be done in Italy with funding from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR in Italian). It is made possible thanks to a collaborative effort by the Port Authority, the region’s public institutions and the national Government. With the awarding of the contract in October to the PERGENOVA BREAKWATER consortium and the start of the executive design, the laying of the first stone was conducted today, setting a milestone that confirms a respect for the timeline for projects under the PNRR with the aim to complete the first phase of the breakwater by 2026.
It will be the biggest work ever done to improve an Italian port, part of an integrated series of projects that are developing access to the Port of Genova and Liguria by road, rail and sea. The new breakwater, whose construction will employ 1,000 people, directly and indirectly, will be done by the PERGENOVA BREAKWATER consortium led by Webuild with partners Fincantieri Infrastructure Opere Marittime, Fincosit and Sidra. It is being commissioned by the Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority.
The day opened with a meeting at the institutional level held at the Compere Hall at San Giorgio Palace with a direct link to the operations that put into motion in the open sea the first pouring of gravel for the underwater foundation of the breakwater. Participants at the event included Infrastructure and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini; Deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi; the Commander of the Port Admiral Sergio Liardo; Liguria Region President Giovanni Toti; Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci; Paolo Emilio Signorini, President of the Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority and Extraordinary Commissioner of the project; and Webuild Chief Executive Pietro Salini.
The breakwater will consolidate the role of the port system within the Rhine-Alpine Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN.T), of which the Terzo Valico dei Giovi, under development by Webuild, is also a part.
The innovative project entails the construction of a maritime infrastructure designed to protect the basins and port structures from climate change, acting as a bulwark at sea. Nearly all of the material from the demolition of the old breakwater will be reused in respect of the principles of a circular economy, reducing the environmental impact of its construction.
The new breakwater, unique from an engineering point of view, will be 6,200 kilometres long. In order to build the base, which will reach depths of up to 50 metres, seven million tons of rock material will be used. A hundred prefabricated, reinforced concrete caissons will be placed along the base, reaching a scale of 35 metres in width, 67 metres in length and up to 33 metres in height like a 10-storey building.
The construction of the breakwater will provide safe access to the port for modern ships known as Ultra Large, which today have limited manoeuvrability within the space of the existing basin built in the 1930s. Once completed, the port will have a turning basin of 800 metres, giving more space for freight, passenger and cruise ships. This will enable the Port of Genoa to compete on an equal footing with Europe’s biggest hubs and raise its standing among those of the Mediterranean. It is estimated that the new breakwater will ensure a progressive annual growth in commercial traffic of 22-30% from 2027 to 2030, when the second phase of the project will be completed. The port authority estimates the economic benefit will be €4.2 billion in terms of greater income from container traffic, and from port rights and taxes.
To inform and welcome the participation of the public at this historic moment for Liguria and the country, a series of events have been organised by Webuild with the Port Authority. At the Port Antico, Piazzale Mandraccio, and Piazza De Ferrari, three creative installations will welcome participants with aerostatic balloons that will raise breakwater caissons reproduced to scale. The installations will remain suspended at the Porto Antico 10 metres in the air for the entire afternoon, accompanied by food and music performances. From 5:30 p.m., one of the installations will be attached to a barge that will bring it to the site of the breakwater. At 8:30 p.m., a sound and light performance will begin, culminating in firework display.