Rago Viaduct

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Rago Viaduct
Viadotto Rago
Morano Calabro, Calabria, Italy
482 feet high / 147 meters high
400 foot span / 122 meter span


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.

One of the highest bridges on Italy’s famed A3 motorway, the Rago viaduct was built in a uniquely Italian style with a customized assembly plan made to bring the pieces together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Located just several miles (kms) south of the larger Italia viaduct, the two bridges are very similar with large steel box beams straddling piers as tall as 133.65 meters high.

The main span measures 561 feet (171 meters) in length and is broken up into 15 segments. Initially staged at the base of the piers, the center span pieces were placed next to each other in two rows. One row with 6 segments and one row with 3 segments. Once connected, the longer box beam of 6 segments was partially raised at an inclined angle. The shorter box beam of 3 segments was then moved over and connected to the longer, inclined beam with a hinge. Raised together until the two halves were straight, the solid beam of 9 segments was then lifted to the tops of the piers. The remaining segments that cantilever out from the pier tops were individually lifted into place by a crane. The approaches consist of hammerhead topped piers that support a mix of several steel and concrete “belly” spans.

Despite having an innovative design, Rago’s overly complicated mix of span sizes and styles were deemed unsuitable to retain in a current rehab and are going to be replaced with simple beam spans of a uniform depth.

Among Italy’s many spectacular motorways, the A3 Autostrada 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 Italia viaduct, the record breaking frame bridge over Sfalassa gorge and the newer Favazzina cable stayed viaduct that replaced the original 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 greatest high bridge highway outside of China.

Rago Viaduct Elevation


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Rago Viaduct construction sequence.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Rago Viaduct construction sequence.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.


Image courtesy of Cimolai construction.




A comparison between the older Rago Viaduct with the stealthy looking belly spans and the planned rehab with simple beam spans of a uniform depth.


Rago Viaduct satellite image.



Rago Viaduct location map.