Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava,
the 94 meter span joins Piazzale Roma with the Santa Lucia railway station. Many claim it to be a worthy connection, but not everybody thinks the level of need justified the level of expense. Along with the government officials who greenlighted the bridge, the designers have also received criticism. Detractors claim they made little or no effort to accommodate handicapped or wheelchair-bound people.
To add to all of this, Calatrava's Bridge has a decidedly modern look.
Venetians are hardly ever guilty of not having an opinion, and I've seen that quality rub off on many of my friends who love gondolas and/or Venice.
Some think the new bridge is fantastic (it certainly solves some transit problems), others say it's a heck of a lot of money to spend just so some tourists don't have to take the vaporetto for one stop. Some critics say that it "doesn't match the city". A few people even despise it so much that they refuse to cross it.
During previous visits, I saw the bridge at various stages of construction, and in June I stepped foot on the new bridge for my first time.
I found that while it did indeed have a more progressive appearance, the builders had used materials that blended in better than I'd expected them to. The use of Istrian Stone was probably a wise choice as it is present in buildings throughout Venice.
If you do a search on the web, you'll see that Santiago Calatrava is responsible for numerous other structures - many of which are a lot more radical.
In fact in some ways I thought Calatrava's bridge design complimented its surroundings, as the glass sides allowed one to look through at the city behind it. From some angles, the city and sky could actually be seen in reflections on the glass.
I only saw the bridge in the daylight, but the photos I've seen at night show an entirely different bridge, with dramatic lighting and glass steps that were lit from beneath.
The weight-bearing structure of the new bridge is a unique series of interconnected arches, creating a strong yet somewhat flexible span.
Approaching Venice's fourth bridge, your view consists of steps, arched handrails that float atop glass walls, and winged butresses at the entry area.
As with a lot of structures in Venice (both new and old), the Ponte della Costituzione has some scaffolding and masking material on the North-West side.
Opinions and discussions continue to fly around regarding Calatrava's new bridge:
whether it's aesthetics fit the city of Venice,
whether or not it was a worthy use of funds,
how necessary it was,
how long it will last,and how it will affect the city.
In matters such as this, I believe that only time will tell.
Maybe in ten years we'll be able to truly determine the answers to those and many other questions.
I will say this, my family and I found it very useful a few times when we needed to get from Piazzale Roma to Ferrovia.
But I must admit: I wonder if it was worth it for Venice to spend that much money.