Until 1854, when the first Accademia bridge was built, the only place you could cross the Canal Grande was at the Rialto. The last major bridge construction was on the Scalzi, across from the train terminal, in 1934.
So it’s big news when the city adds another span over the Canalazzo, even if it is in the less glam part of town, close to where the 4-wheel beasts prowl at Piazzale Roma.
Above you behold an artist's rendition of the new steel, glass and stone structure, decidedly modern in appearance. (Click on the picture for an enlargement.) Its exact date of installation is being kept a secret for some odd reason, but the Mayor of Venice, Paolo Costa promises it will be functional by the end of the summer. It is being constructed in 77 pieces in a warehouse some 30 miles away, and will be towed into the city on barges and fit together Lego-style when the magic day arrives.
The bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who also designed the graceful parabolic arch bridge near the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. (I’ve got some photos of that masterpiece somewhere, but for now, follow this link). Calatrava beat out over 70 other architects for the job.
And of course, there are polemics. Many feel that its modern flavor is out of keeping with the character of Venice. (Counter-polemic from Paolo Costa: “This sends out a sign to the world of Venice's versatility and openness to new directions.”) And there are apparently serious issues about its accessibility to the handicapped. Calatrava did not want to burden the design aesthetics with unsightly wheelchair ramps (ouch), but promises that he’ll figure it something out “once it gets up and running”. I.e, he'll cross that canal when he comes to it.