Work on the construction of the first permanent bridge began in 1903 and the 181-metre-long, 30-metre-high structure, divided into three arches, was inaugurated on 16 September 1906. During the Great War, after the defeat at Caporetto in November 1917, the bridge was undermined by the retreating Italian army and the arch on the Pinzano side was destroyed. At the entrance, today, there is a plaque in memory of Captain Teodoro Moggio and the men of the Bologna Brigade, who fought in the rearguard battle on the left bank of the river, an important battle for the reorganisation of the Italian military.
In 1920 the bridge was rebuilt and the structure, damaged by partisan raids in 1944, was repaired after the war. However, it suffered irreversible damage during the 1966 flood and was blown up the following year. The current elegant bridge was inaugurated on 19 March 1970. Military loads of up to 838 tonnes were used for testing. The structure is so stable that it was not damaged in the 1976 earthquake.
Near the tunnel, you can still see the toll booth and several military posts. A machine gun emplacement dating back to the Cold War can be encountered by descending a side path, while there are other fortified structures near the Shrine. There is also a bunker in the area, which cannot be visited for security reasons. This system was headed by the so-called “casermetta” (small barracks) at the foot of Col Pion (where the Sacrario stands), with accommodation and storage for a detachment of infantrymen. In the years of the Cold War, Friuli was the outpost against the communist enemy, which never arrived. The region and the Tagliamento line were of strategic importance for the western defence system.
After the 1976 earthquake, the barracks were used as the site for the tenth reconstruction site of the National Alpine Association.