While politicians on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. are debating the benefits of high-speed rail, the news in Italy is that Michelangelo’s statue of David may be at risk of being toppled by the construction of a high-speed rail line nearby. The statue’s flimsy ankles apparently could give way due to vibrations during construction, the Telegraph is reporting.

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Photo by Gruenemann

Tiny cracks that have already formed in the ankles of the statue could get worse as a result of the more than 1 billion euro rail project, which is to start this summer. The cracks in the marble, which are primarily in David’s left ankle, have apparently risen because of the angle that the statue is leaning in. As a result, there have been several calls to move the statue to a museum away from the construction.

“The tunnel will pass about 600 meters (2,000ft) from the statue of David, the ankles of which, it is well known, are riddled with micro-fissures. If it’s not moved before digging begins, there is a serious risk that it will collapse,” said Fernando De Simone, an expert in underground engineering to Telegraph.

Florence is already divided about the construction of the train line. While proponents say it is necessary to improve the city’s connections with Rome and Milan, opponents are arguing that the country’s heritage should come first. The statue was moved to the Accademia Gallery in 1873 after concern that it was being damaged by grime and rain.

Via Telegraph UK

Lead photo © Benhamin Vander Steen