World's highest bridge joined above S France

28th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

MILLAU, France, May 28 (AFP) - Engineers brought the two central ends of the Millau road viaduct in southwest France together on Friday, completing the span of the highest bridge in the world.

MILLAU, France, May 28 (AFP) - Engineers brought the two central ends of the Millau road viaduct in southwest France together on Friday, completing the span of the highest bridge in the world.

The road surface is 270 metres above ground, a world record, and the total structure, with suspension cables added will be 343 metres (1,132 feet) above ground at its highest point or 23 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower.

The crowing part of the operation will be the raising of seven pylons above the platform of the bridge from which are to be suspended supporting cables.

These will take the total height at the highest point to 343 metres. One of the main supporting pylons beneath the platform, known as pylon 2, stands 245 metres high, making it the tallest pylon in the world.

The bridge, along the most direct route from Paris to the Mediterranean, is to be opened to public traffic on December 17, 39 months after work began.

The French construction group Eiffage, which financed the cost of EUR 310 million (USD 378 million), has a concession to operate the bridge for 75 years. Motorists will be charged EUR 4.6 (USD 5.6) for a journey, rising to EUR 6.5 in the busy summer period of July and August, and heavy vehicles will be charged EUR 19.

The bridge spans the valley of the Tarn river to carry a motorway from Clermont-Ferrand to Beziers and establishing a major north-south axis parallel to the Rhone valley.

Eiffage has some roots in the engineering work pioneered by Gustav Eiffel, the engineer and business genius who built the Eiffel Tower landmark in Paris.

The Millau bridge, which is 2,460 metres long, was made possible by innovative techniques enabling the entire span to be lifted each time a new section was added.

But for this technique, the extension of each end of the bridge would have caused the extremity to touch and topple the needle-like pylon on which it was to rest.

With the two ends coming together within centimetres of each other, workers celebrated with champagne.

A gap of 15 centimeters (six inches) for the final joint remained. There will be a gap of 26 millimeters for about 10 days after which connectors will be welded in place.

The operation was a repetition of 17 other similar feats as work progressed to raise and rest the ends gently on their pillars, which stand like giant needles from the bottom of the wide valley.

When the remaining connectors have been welded in place, the total structure will comprise 36,000 tonnes of steel. This represents one quarter of the weight had the bridge been constructed by traditional means using concrete.

The bridge will then be completed with layers of road surfacing and motorway equipment.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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