France’s tallest structure today is actually a bridge, Millau Viaduct a cable-stayed bridge which crosses gorge valley near Millau in spectacular southern France. The bridge is born out of a Franco-British collaboration, designed by the one of the prolific British architect, Sir Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux, a well-known bridge specialist.
One of the reasons why this bridge is being discussed due to the many challenges it faced during the construction. Engineers had to erect 7 steel pylons, each weighing 700 tons. The bridge piers installed here are highest in the world, so the designing was from the scratch. The bridge had to handle a dead weight of 36000 tons at any given point of time.
The construction of bridge broke many architectural records such as the tallest pylons and highest pylons ever installed to a bridge. Pylons P2 and P3 of the bridge, 244.96 metres (803 ft 8 in) and 221.05 metres (725 ft 3 in) in height respectively. The highest bridge tower in the world, the mast of the pylon P2 is of a record-breaking 343 metres (1,125 ft). As far as bridge height in Europe is concerned, Millau Viaduct is almost twice as tallest as its nearest competitor. But, bridges from China, Mexico and USA have surpassed this bridge when comes to height.
7 times of more steel than used compared with Eiffel Tower, there was lot prefabricated mini structures were used in the construction due to the secluded location of the bridge. The goal was to reduce the work on site. Steel cables were used to suspend the bridge in the air.
2460 m: the total length of the viaduct.
7: The number of piles.
7 m: height of the pile 7, the lowest.
336 m: height of the pile 2, the highest (245 m at the highway).
270 m: height of a typical section
4.20 m: thickness of the dual deck
32.00 m: width of the highway
127,000 m³, the volume of concrete used on the bridge.
290,000 tonnes: total weight of the structure
10,000 – 25,000 vehicles: estimated daily traffic.
4.90 – 6.90 euros typical to pay the toll to cross the viaduct.
Area of concrete piles:
Based sockets Established: 200 m2
Under the table: 30 m2
Pending: 3% (rising in the direction Clermont-Ferrand-Béziers)
Wind resistance: up to 250 km/hour