Engineering Rome's Future

Construction for Rome’s third subway line, Metro C, started in 2007, yet any mention of its completion will elicit a sarcastic comment from a local. After meeting with project leaders and visiting the construction site this summer, Engineering students from Texas A&M realize just how complex of a project it is.

In May, the group was welcomed to the boardroom of Roma Metropolitane, the organization responsible for the expansion. Chairman and CEO Paolo Omodeo Salè introduced the project and the many factors that impact its outcome, especially changing economic and labor conditions.

The line will reflect the best available technology, with driverless trains designed to compete with advanced systems in Copenhagen and Riyadh. At the same time, the students learned how the project compensated extensive wait times for archeological analysis by building an aboveground portion of the line on existing rail from an early twentieth century train line in the outskirts of the city.

The group then continued with Andrea Sciotti, Line C Project Manager, to ride a portion of the line already active before visiting a dig site. Sciotti explained the technical aspects of the project, including the unique geological conditions and water table in Rome, as well as different drilling techniques.

The most interesting part of the experience came with Sciotti’s firsthand accounts of archeological discoveries. He described a 2,000 year-old petrified tree from Ancient Rome that was removed for tunnel construction and inspired the design of the station that will link lines A and C at the Basilica of San Giovanni. Piazza Venezia, he explained, proved the most challenging station to locate, considering the concentration of ruins around the Roman Forum. The depth, size, and configuration of each station will vary in accordance with the historical and archeological significance of its surroundings.

While in Rome, the group also enjoyed a private tour of the Acquedotto Vergine below Villa Medici, the only ancient aqueduct still in operation after twenty centuries. Today the aqueduct provides water to the Trevi Fountain and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona, among many others.