Ferrara Waterway

Country ITALY – Emilia Romagna
Client Amministrazione Provinciale di Ferrara
Services provided preliminary design; final design; detailed design; Environmental impact assessment study
Period of execution


Construction cost € 74,325,791.00

19 km of total length
4 km of cycle paths


The Ferrarese Waterway is a navigable route crossing 70km of the Ferrara plain down to the Adriatic Sea, an environment of rich cultural traditions and great naturalistic value. The European Union has included the Padano-Veneto waterway, to which the Ferrarese Waterway belongs, among the major projects of interest for the development of the trans-European transport network.
The Project consists of a series of requalification and upgrading works on the waterway connecting Ponte Lagoscuro with Porto Garibaldi – the river and sea port providing access to the regional waterway system – with the aim of transforming the surrounding area into a cultural, touristic and economic resource.
The principal aims of the Project are:

  • to transform the waterway into a navigable canal suitable for European Class V vessels and to develop an infrastructure compatible with the environment;
  • to make the waterway usable by citizens (cycle paths, green areas) and tourists (construction of docks, mooring);
  • to upgrade goods and passenger transport systems.

On completion of the Project, the volume of road traffic will see a considerable reduction, with positive impacts on the road system and CO2 emissions. Other benefits will include the decrease in noise pollution as a result of the reduction in the transit of heavy traffic.


Lotti Ingegneria has developed the most demanding lot in the Project, i.e. the 19km crossing through the historic town centre and industrial area of Ferrara.
The complexity of the system arises from the need to resolve existing interferences between the canal and the area’s numerous infrastructures: both ordinary and urban road networks and inevitable underground systems, the presence of listed buildings in the town centre, and the presence of a railway hub of primary importance.
The adaptation of the clearance profile necessitates many changes to existing street systems passing over the canal: road and railway bridges require adaptation both in width and headroom.
The project includes over 4 km of new cycle paths along the Po di Volano. Basic problems are exacerbated by the crossing of an industrial chemical pole which has had its plant in the area for more than fifty years, dumping variously polluted sludge in the canal, and by the many uses of the water supply system.The canal is not only a navigable waterway, but it also receives drainage from the ferrarese reclamation districts. The first problem facing the designers was whether to adapt the existing canal, with its totally inadequate dimensions, or construct a new one.

It was deemed preferable to adapt the existing waterway:

  • mainly in order to reduce the social impact of greater expropriations for the construction of a new one,
  • as well as greater territorial security in the event of floodwater drainage;
  • lesser impact of the works for the existing route;
  • greater funding flexibility;
  • plus the possibility of constructing the Ferrara river port;
  • greater ease from a procedural and administrative point of view.

Of special importance is the study for the disposal of dredging sludge, indicating as a solution a press-filter to reduce the liquid phase under controlled conditions.
The environmental restoration of the canal along its urban section has been the subject of continuous meetings with a team appointed by the Municipality of Ferrara, with the consultancy of the University.
Major attention during these Technical Meetings has been paid to construction details and the choice of materials to be employed in environmental exploitation works replacing the existing banks in the urban section, works that must blend with the town centre, whose walls go back to the 15th century.
Within the urban area of Ferrara, a special point is the bend at Porta Reno, owing to its narrow radius and the residential buildings immediately facing it.
This critical point has been solved by coupling two solutions: the resectioning of the inside bank of the bend with a micro-pile bulkhead, plus a guided navigation system with towing by tugs and support devices. Among the most sensitive landscaping works is the S, Giorgio bridge node. A traffic plan for a new road layout will centre on a roundabout in the restricted archaeological area owing to the proximity of the basilica of S. Giorgio, whose outline has always been a visual point of reference for the town. The new road system has also made possible the restoration of the original access to the Basilica from the left bank of the Volano, with the construction of a new cycle path and footbridge..


Provided in collaboration with ESI S.p.A. – RPA S.p.A. – CNR Compagnie Nationale du Rhone – S.TE.P. snc

  • preliminary design (including topographic surveys, studies geognostic, hydrology and hydraulics, environment and underground utilities)
  • final design
  • detailed design
  • Environmental impact assessment study