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TheEveningStar
14-12-04, 02:49
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20041213/capt.sge.ogh41.131204160717.photo00.photo.default-384x217.jpg http://us.news1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/rids/20041209/i/r3103448616.jpg
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http://us.news1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/rids/20041209/i/r2779611923.jpg
MILLAU, France (AFP) - A bridge officially designated the tallest in the world is to be inaugurated in southern France Tuesday -- a spectacular feat of engineering that will carry motorists at 270 metres (885 feet) above the valley of the river Tarn.

Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the Millau motorway viaduct stretches for 2.46 kilometres (1.6 miles) between two plateaux in the Massif Central mountain range and when it opens Thursday will remove one of the country's most notorious traffic bottlenecks.

Built of steel and concrete at a cost of 390 million euros (520 million dollars), the bridge rests on seven pillars, one of which -- dubbed P2 -- climbs to 343 metres above ground level, making it 23 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Like a taut thread pierced by a line of needles, the silhouette dominates the countryside for miles around and has been praised as a classic marriage of aesthetics and science. More than 60,000 people have already paid for tours of the construction site.

"A work of man must fuse with nature. The pillars had to look almost organic, like they had grown from the earth," Foster said in a special edition of the local newspaper Midi Libre.

"The bridge could not look as if it had been tacked onto the scenery. It had to rise out of the landscape with the delicacy of a butterfly."

The viaduct is not only the tallest in the world -- outstripping the 282-metre (928 foot) towers of the Akashi Kaikyo bridge in Japan -- it is also the longest cable-stayed bridge. The Tatara Ohashi bridge in Japan is 1.48 kilometres long.

The highest bridge in the world -- measured by distance from deck to ground level -- remains the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, US which is 320 metres (1,053 feet) above the river Arkansas.

President Jacques Chirac will officially launch the Millau bridge at Tuesday's ceremony, almost exactly three years after work began. Some 3,000 people have been employed by the French construction giant Eiffage, which holds the right to draw a toll for the next 75 years.

The bridge was commissioned in order to open up a new north-south route across central France and relieve pressure from lorry-drivers and tourists bound for the Mediterranean and Spain in the saturated Rhone valley corridor to the east.

Travellers on the A75 motorway between Clermont-Ferrand and Beziers have been forced to a crawl as they descended to the town of Millau -- best-known recently as the place where anti-globalisation activist Jose Bove smashed a McDonald's restaurant.

Motorists will now be able to pay a fee of 4.9 euros (6.5 dollars) to speed above the town. Lorry-drivers will be charged about four times as much.

Eiffage is predicting an average of 10,000 vehicles per day, with a peak of 25,000 during the summer season when tariffs will be increased. If the bridge proves unexpectedly profitable, the French state has the right to take possession from 2044.

Weighing some 36,000 tonnes, the bridge was assembled as much as possible off-site. Large sections were lifted by giant crane and slid onto the pillars, with the two ends meeting in May. It has been built to withstand wind-speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour.

"In our civilisation infrastructure is fundamental. Public spaces, avenues, bridges over rivers -- these are what bring men together and condition our quality of life. But there are also needs which one cannot measure, which are more spiritual," Foster said.

"Ideally passing over the bridge should allow one to 'elevate oneself.' Looking at it should provoke an emotion. Its purpose is to allow people to cross the valley without damaging the town of Millau. But it goes far beyond that," he said.
Yahoo.com

SMSL
14-12-04, 08:33
Cool spot for those with suicidal tendencies there. A bridge from where you can jump and probably die of shock before ever hitting the water. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/clown.gif

Sorry, dark humour... http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/privateeye.gif

Catlantean
14-12-04, 08:48
Hitting the water? Only if you're very precise, otherwise it will be SPLAT! as most of the bridge is above solid ground :D

It looks very impressive and futuristic, though.

[ 14. December 2004, 09:49: Message edited by: Catlantean ]

Draco
14-12-04, 08:53
Must be a major traffic area, what with all those small towns and farms.

Neteru
14-12-04, 09:26
Tractors are all the rage in that part of France apparently.

SMSL
14-12-04, 09:37
Originally posted by Catlantean:
Hitting the water? Only if you're very precise, otherwise it will be SPLAT! as most of the bridge is above solid ground :D Okey. A suicidal with a sniper scope. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/tongue.gif

SpArKy
14-12-04, 10:01
Ha ha, i have to say..it looks amazing , but where on earth did France get there money from to fund that project, lmao.

Draco
14-12-04, 10:40
Originally posted by SpArKy:
Ha ha, i have to say..it looks amazing , but where on earth did France get there money from to fund that project, lmao.I have no idea. *cough*Iraq*cough*

Anubis_AF
14-12-04, 16:34
France is smart country and doesn't need others' money to build a bridge. :rolleyes:
Anyway, I love it. It's impressing. :D

SpArKy
14-12-04, 17:18
Originally posted by Anubis_AF:
France is smart country and doesn't need others' money to build a bridge. :rolleyes:
Anyway, I love it. It's impressing. :D They do if it costs that much, lmao!
No France is a very nice place, and Paris is just a dream it really is.

complex
15-12-04, 00:31
The bridge was designed by the British architect Lord Foster, whose previous designs include the marvellous "Gherkin" tower in London.