World's tallest bridge... Norm does it again!

France opens world's tallest bridge
Chirac praises
1.6-mile roadway as
a 'prodigy of art'

Celebrated as a work of art and an object of French national pride, the Millau bridge will enable motorists to take a drive through the sky — 891 feet above the Tarn River valley for 1.6-mile stretch through France’s Massif Central mountains.

Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the steel-and-concrete bridge with its streamlined diagonal suspension cables rests on seven pillars — the tallest measuring 1,122 feet, making it 53 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower.

The bridge, which has an airy and fluid appearance, was designed to have the “delicacy of a butterfly,” Foster said in an interview with regional daily newspaper Midi Libre.

“A work of man must fuse with nature. The pillars had to look almost organic, like they had grown from the earth,” said Foster, who also designed London’s Millennium Bridge.

Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge, towering 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River, is the world’s tallest suspension bridge — but it is designed for pedestrians. The Kochertal viaduct in Germany was the highest roadway, at 607 feet, officials said.

'Exceptional opening'
President Jacques Chirac, surrounded by workers in hard hats, lifted a French flag covering a plaque on the bridge in the town of Millau on Tuesday. Fighter jets roared overhead, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke.

“This exceptional opening will go down in industrial and technological history,” Chirac said, praising the bridge’s designers and builders for creating “a prodigy of art and architecture — a new emblem of French civil engineering.”

The bridge will serve as a symbol of “a modern and conquering France,” he said.

Millau, whose skyline is dominated by the bridge, had until now been best-known outside France as the place where anti-globalization crusader Jose Bove dismantled a McDonald’s restaurant.

The bridge, nearly three years in construction, opens to vehicles on Thursday.

Link to the Riviera
The $523 million bridge was commissioned to open a new north-south link between Paris and the Mediterranean and is expected to relieve bottlenecks caused by trucks and tourists headed to the Riviera.

Images of the bridge, which dominates the surrounding Rhone Valley countryside for miles, have appeared in national media for days. Aerial photos published in Le Monde’s Tuesday edition show the bridge rising above the clouds, and the newspaper’s editorial declares it “a work of art.”

Some 28,000 vehicles a day are expected to cross the bridge in the summer months, and about 10,000 a day the rest of the year, according to France’s Eiffage construction company, which built it.

Toll fees for motorists will vary from $6.50 in winter and $8.62 in summer. Trucks will have to pay $32.24 year-round.

Feck me, can't wait for the first wobble, Norm.... :twisted:
My God, isn't it wonderful though?

Saw it on News24 yesterday , shrouded in clouds. I definitely have to visit that. The fact there's a major wine producing area nearby is merely a happy accident.
That must be a world record height for a BASE attempt..... Hmmmmmmm
Really nice peice of work, just hope it doesnt wobble though. Rumour is that the guy who designed the london wobbly bridge was involved in this project aswell. They had 100 people waling and jumping across it the other day to test its wobble factor (or is that just to see how it reacts when 100 jerry's goose step across it 8O )

This will make a huge difference to the area, as anyone who has driven through that valey will atest. You have to go down a steep and windy road (like very steep and VERY windy) then 20 miles on flat then all the way up a very steep and windy road up the way to other side.

Last time i was there, a petrol tanker got stuck going round a corner causing a 4hr delay. Didnt help that it magicly went kaboom! :twisted:

agent smith
When I saw this bridge earlier today I thought it was a magnificent looking sight , thought it looked even better when the news mentioned who had designed it.
The bridge will serve as a symbol of “a modern and conquering France,” he said.

Millau, whose skyline is dominated by the bridge, had until now been best-known outside France as the place where anti-globalization crusader Jose Bove dismantled a McDonald’s restaurant.
Ha, so Le Frog has actually has actually conquered something then.....a Macca store :lol: :lol: :?
Some piece of engineering, eh? Well-in Norm!

It is engineers who design and build bridges. Norman Foster is an architect and ‘designs’ the aesthetic but I doubt he’d have been resolving any forces, calculating loads or walking the bridge deck in a hard hat directing the cranes. Architecture (other than naval architecture) is more art than engineering, hence the celebrity architect.

I understand the Millennium Bridge wobbled because engineers played second fiddle to the 'gods of art'. There was much ‘we told you so’ when the bridge wobbled.

The Millau Bridge is a fine looking bridge so credit to Norman Foster for that, but credit to the engineers for doing the hard bit. Bee out of bonnet.

A letter in today's Telegraph says likewise. The writer is (from his post nominals) a civil engineer.

Sir – Foster's contribution to the aesthetics of the beautiful new French bridge was doubtless very valuable. But this bridge is primarily a great engineering achievement, and the civil engineers deserve their share of the credit.

Alas, we in Britain have become too technophobic to recognise those who hold our world together.

We also lack the vision to see that human endeavour can enhance the landscape with such magnificent structures, and our politicians dare not admit the obvious truth that our society is entirely dependent on a fully functioning road system.

Hindhead Bypass bridge next, perhaps?

David Cooper, FICE, London SW18

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