December 17, 2004
Millau Viaduct Opens in FranceThe Millau Viaduct in France, the world's tallest, opened yesterday (it's the tallest in the sense of having the highest supporting pier).
Personally I think this bridge looks funny; the freedom that cable-stayed bridges allows is mostly abused by bridge designers to produce ungainly-looking things like this. By contrast the Kochertal viaduct, which the Millau replaced as the tallest in the world, is a simple box girder and looks fine (look at this album of German bridges. See? See? Is it so hard to design a concrete bridge that looks reasonable?). The piers at Millau are 342 meters apart; the Confederation Bridge (another box girder) has them about 250 meters apart, so it might have been a stretch to not have the cable-stayed part and still keep the same number of piers.
Anyway, this is a picture of the town of Millau with the viaduct lurking over it:
Millau is in southern France, and this viaduct is a key link on the A75 road south from Paris (a discussion of different alternative routes is here; the light blue route was chosen). The French all drive south in unison in August, and evidently the old road caused huge backups getting past this point.
Here's a picture of the bridge with a rainbow, except that the bridge itself looks like it was Photoshopped (the cable support tower on the left is in the wrong place), so I assume the rainbow was faked also. Maybe this was an old artist's mockup whose origin got lost.
Posted by AdamBa at December 17, 2004 03:52 PM
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Actually the bridge in the rainbow photo isn't fake - the tower is in the wrong position because the whole LHS of the bridge - all 32K tonnes - was assembled and 'pushed' out from the landside on gigantic hydralic sliding wedges to meet in the middle.
Watched a Science channel program about it the operation the other night - one word - AMAZING!
It's a modern marvel for sure.
Posted by: Steve at December 17, 2004 09:29 PM
Amazing. So the cable supports were just bolted on to the tops of the piers? I guess in a cable-stayed bridge that would work, since it is balanced on either side. What will those French think of next. First blue cheese and now this.
Posted by: Adam Barr at December 18, 2004 11:05 PM