Sunday, September 2, 2012

Viaduc Millau

While staying in the Corrèze this summer, I took our rental car out for a spin through the Massif Central and, eventually, south to the Viaduc Millau. It was a good deal longer of a drive than I anticipated but well worth it. Remembering the splash it made in international news pages when it opened in 2004, I particularly wanted to see the bridge. Until then, the Tarn Valley in southern France slowed traffic between Paris and the Mediterranean tremendously, as its walls are so steep that cars could only descend and ascend on steep switchbacks. Now, he viaduct simply leaps a mile and a half across the gorge.

While it is difficult to appreciate the height of the bridge in person because of the scale of the surrounding landscape, it is the tallest in the world (though other spans cross deeper chasms). The piers rise higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Its symmetry, gentle curve, and white color give the bridge an almost dreamlike quality. It is slender and elegant. Apparently there was some concern that motorists, distracted by the architecture or blinded by fog, would be prone to accidents on the bridge.

The architect was Norman Foster, but the engineers were French, to the pride of the locals. The bridge cost 400 million Euros to construct; the toll to cross was 7 Euros. 

1 comment:

Ari said...

Very impressive, especially that the bridge only cost 400m Euros. I-35 bridge cost $235m but is only 1/4 miles long.