Construction of the world’s tallest bridge in Millau

In 1980, France built a freeway linking Paris directly Spain. This major artery headed South across the French countryside. Far from the Mediterranean, the freeway headed north until they both hit the deepest valley in France and stop dead. Because of problems with route traffic from Paris to Spain passing through the Tarn valley near the town of Millau, leading to congestion from holiday traffic, construction of a bridge to extent the valley was required. Until 2001, the Millau Bridge was established to connect the Northern part and the Southern part. 


Image Credit: leviaducdemillau.com

The bridge is designed by French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster. Its highest tower stretches a staggering 343 meters above the base of the structure − so high the bridge collides above the clouds.


Image Credit: Documentary Galaxy HD

The team attempting to build this amazing freeway in the sky had to survive landslides, fight wind gusting at a 130 kilometers an hour and when a massive storm, the bridge simply hung in the balance. It’s a bridge that pushes the boundaries and engineering to the limits and then beyond.

From the start the construction team faced three daunting challenges. One, build the tallest piers in the world. Two, put the 36,000 ton freeway on the top of them and three, erect 7 steel pylons, each weights 700 tons and had to do this hundreds of meters above solid ground.

The 7 pylons are numbered from the northern end in the valley. Number one will the pose problem because of the steep slope. Two will be the biggest challenge since it’s the tallest. Number three is crossing the River Tarn’s valley. Then number four, five, six and seven, are to find the gentle slope to the south.  


Image Credit: Documentary Galaxy HD

Two weeks after the laying of the position designer on 14 December 2001, the workers started to dig the unsounded shafts. There were 4 per tower; 15 m (49 ft) unsounded and 5 m (16 ft) in diameter, ensuring the stability of the pylons. At the face of each tower, a locomotion of 3-5 m (10-16 ft) in thickness was installed to fortify the core of the recondite shafts. The 2,000 m3 (2,600 cu yd) of concrete for the treads was poured at the same time. The project used about 127,000 cubic meters of concrete, 19,000 tons of steel for the strengthened concrete and 5,000 tons of pre-stressed steel for the cables and shrouds.


Image Credit: Documentary Galaxy HD

Millau Bridge was formally inaugurated on 14 December 2004, and opened to traffic on 16 December. The bridge's construction cost up to €394 million, with an additional €20 million for a toll plaza 6 km north of the viaduct. The builders, Eiffage, financed this magnificent construction in return for a business to collect the tolls for 75 years, until 2080. However, if the business is very profitable, the French government can start control of the bridge in 2044.


Image Credit: leviaducdemillau.com 

Image Credit: leviaducdemillau.com 

Image Credit: leviaducdemillau.com 

Image Credit: leviaducdemillau.com 

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