The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France.
Designed by the British architect Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux, it is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343 meters above the base of the structure. It is the 17th highest bridge deck in the world, being 270 meters between the road deck and the ground below. The Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Béziers and Montpellier. The cost of construction was approximately €400 million. It was formally inaugurated on 14 December 2004 and opened to traffic on 16 December. The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time and received the 2006 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Outstanding Structure Award.
The bridge is also one of the most extremely dangerous bridge because of its location and architecture. Driving with high winds is particularly demanding for large vehicles such as trucks and buses and trailers. Their large surface, especially when the wind hits laterally, increase the risk of overturning. If traffic is not banned them altogether, there’s only one solution to avoid the accident: slow down and increase the safety distances. Light vehicles will need to exercise extreme vigilance when overtaking, especially heavyweight causing air calls and two wheels that can easily swerve. Again, slow is the best way to protect yourself.
The bridge was opened by President Jacques Chirac. In his speech he praised the design saying that it was a ‘monument to French engineering genius’ and ‘a miracle of equilibrium’.
The bridge was entirely privately financed and cost 394 million euros. The aim is to cut the traveling time to southern France, removing the bottle neck at Millau, through the completion of the motorway between Paris and the Mediterranean.
- The Millau Viaduct Bridge has earned many records for being on of the worlds most dangerous bridge.
- Construction record for the highest pylon was broken during the building of the bridge.
- It is built on the harp design of cable-stayed bridges.