Venice, August 21 - World-famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava faces 3.8 million euros in damages after being subpoenaed Wednesday for "huge errors" in the design of a bridge spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. The Bridge of the Constitution, commonly referred to as the Calatrava bridge, was unveiled in 2008, becoming the only modern bridge spanning the lagoon city's central waterway. Damages were requested by the Veneto region audit court at the end of a 10-year investigation, begun as problems surfaced during the bridge's construction. The sleek arc of steel accessed by a flight of glass steps spans 94 metres from one bank to the other. Geologists blame its low articulation for bearing too much pressure on the fragile banks, forcing them to spread apart and collapse in some parts. The bridge was also dogged by controversy because of cost overruns and an initial lack of access for the disabled. An original price tag of four million euros in the mid-1990s eventually swelled to more than 11 million. According to local daily La Nuova Venezia, this was the court's third attempt to serve Calatrava with the subpoena. The trial is slated to open November 13.
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di Giovanni Pastore