Ten years and $7.3 billion later, Venice flood barrier system passes first test

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A massive engineering effort to build 78 flood barriers to protect the Italian city of Venice from rising tides received its first test.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters
The system was initially set to be complete by 2014, but won't be ready before 2016. Progress was set back by funding issues and a recent graft scandal that led to the construction consortium chief resigning in June. A lawmaker said enough money would be secured to finish the project within three years. Copyright 2014 Reuters

The system was initially set to be complete by 2014, but won't be ready before 2016. Progress was set back by funding issues and a recent graft scandal that led to the construction consortium chief resigning in June. A lawmaker said enough money would be secured to finish the project within three years.

Dozens of companies have been involved in the project, which will feature 78 mobile flood barriers when complete. The system will be activated when high tides reach 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) higher than normal levels, protecting the city from the most severe flooding. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Dozens of companies have been involved in the project, which will feature 78 mobile flood barriers when complete. The system will be activated when high tides reach 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) higher than normal levels, protecting the city from the most severe flooding.

Venice, Italy

Wet weather swept across Italy last November, dropping nine inches of rain in four hours on Tuscany and causing rivers to flood. In Venice, shops, homes and historic palaces filled with water. By Nov., flood waters had begun receding. The flooding, which killed four, was the sixth-worst on record since 1872 .

Though construction began a decade ago and has already cost 5.4 billion euros ($7.3 billion), the Venice flood barrier system--or the Moses project--is not yet complete. However, four mobile floodgates were successfully tested Oct. 12 before a slew of officials, who praised the progress thus far.

Tourists sit at cafe tables in flooded St. Mark's Square. 2012 was the fourth time since 2000 that Venice had been hit by record-high water. City officials blamed the flooding on global climate change. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Tourists sit at cafe tables in flooded St. Mark's Square. 2012 was the fourth time since 2000 that Venice had been hit by record-high water. City officials blamed the flooding on global climate change.

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