View Full Version : The Millau bridge

14th Dec 2004, 23:28
Looks gorgeous from what I can see here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4091813.stm#

Anyone flown over it yet? (or through it :E )

Price strikes me as surprisingly cost-effective, looks as though they ran an efficient operation.

The bridge is now a source of pride for Millau, which believes many more tourists will come to admire one of the engineering wonders of the 21st Century


14th Dec 2004, 23:42
Considering that it's a Foster "design", not "that" bad looking.

15th Dec 2004, 00:01
If you would like to visit it from the air, be aware that there is a Temporary Restricted Zone (http://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dossier/supaipmetro/SUP_2004_131_EN.pdf) over it until January 31st.

15th Dec 2004, 00:40
Saw it on the news here too ... looks beautiful. :ok:

Buster Hyman
15th Dec 2004, 01:03
The French government has the right to assume control of the bridge from 2044, if it proves extremely profitable. And if it doesn't?:uhoh:

Okay, shall we take bets on the date for the first jumper? Me, I'm going for 31/12/05.:ugh:

15th Dec 2004, 07:50
...This masterwork destroyed in a 9/11 way by moron wishing to impress his girl friend with his flying skills.

While everyone is satisfied with this British designed French built European work ( with many Portuguese welders)...........and me too, I still remember CDG2 accident.

In Nimes, not so far from Milhau, you can admire another beautyfull Foster's creation: Carré d'Art, modern art museum, another occasion to check the container is better than contents. (the problem is these glass buildings will becomme more and more expensive to aircondition as energy prices are growing.)

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 07:59
Bah!! proper bridges are constructed of Granite blocks, bricks, steel girders and rivets, one would not like to drive one's steam roller over that thing, looks like a bit of origami rather than engineering, tiz like that abortion millenium bloody arty farty footbridge over the Tyne.
No doubt every pirate bungey jumper and those silly chaps that leap off skyscrapers and such will be flocking to it for miles around.
Good place to top oneself as well from the look of it, personelly one would rather go the revolver in the gob or sleeping tablet and vodka rout, if one was that way inclined, one has a chance to change ones mind halfway down at that height and that would be a buggah.

15th Dec 2004, 08:08
It does look like a beautiful bridge and the French do seem to be making some nice ones of late. I was driven over the 'Pont de la Seine' (?) earlier this year and it from what I saw of it that is a spectacular piece of engineering as well (it was p*SSing it down, 200 metre visibility, so couldn't see that much).

We used to build good bridges (Clifton, Forth rail etc.) but don't seem to be doing so of late (although the Second Severn Crossing is quite good) although an abscence of spectacular gorges that need crossing removes some of the incentive.

Biggles Flies Undone
15th Dec 2004, 08:58
I’m with Drapes – never fail to be impressed by the Tamar railway bridge with Brunel’s name writ big and proud on it, or the Clifton Suspension Bridge. That said, Foster’s work is quite easy on the eye – unlike the bloody awful Pompidou Centre, Millennium Dome and New Lloyd’s Building designed by Richard Rogers :yuk:

15th Dec 2004, 09:11
Aw come on Drapes.

We have a rail viaduct just down the road from us which carries the East Coast Main Line over a valley near Welwyn. Its quite pretty and made of bricks, but in comparison with this new French bridge, it is really ugly.

This joins the other things of beauty that Norman Foster has dreamed up.

Standard Noise
15th Dec 2004, 09:25
A more interesting question is, would the French media be in such a frenzy if Foster had designed a bridge which was built here in the UK?

15th Dec 2004, 09:30
Another (fine) example of French engineering and British consulting (and some heavy Greek Constructing) is the Rion-Antirion bridge in the Gulf of Corinth in Greece, that opened in August this year ahead of schedule.

This is actually the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Rion-Antirion Bridge (http://www.fabermaunsell.com/projects/details.asp?id=38)

Some more info (http://www.gefyra.gr/English/framesetbig.htm)


15th Dec 2004, 09:43
Jaques Chirac said at the opening of it in his speech that it was A symbol of an ALL CONQUERING NATION

OK not a bad bridge as bridges go but who have they conquered recently??:confused:

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 09:57
I likes me bridges like I likes me women, of solid construction with a bit meat on em, the Forth Railway Bridge, now thats a bridge.

15th Dec 2004, 10:14

Wonder how many people will get half way then stop, there is a medical term for it but its basically being scared of being on high bridges.

Remember somone going wibble on the QE II bridge at Dartford a few years back and causing a massive tail back.

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 10:32
Had a workmate once who was terrified of going through the Tyne Tunnel, he once said to me "its ok for you, you can swim" , one told him swimming wouldn't be the problem should said tunnel collapse and let in the cold waters of the Tyne, twould be the holding of ones breath for the thirty five minutes it would take to swim out underwater that would be the problem.
Mind you it didn't stop the buggah claiming Tyne Tunnel Toll charges on his expenses every month.

15th Dec 2004, 10:33
Bet you a tenner it wobbles. :}

Only a matter of time before the business and townsfolk below try to burn it down as all their passing traffic (desperate and gullible tourists), and hence income, scoots past 900' overhead. They won't be quite so pleased with it once they're all penniless. ;)

15th Dec 2004, 10:42
Mr Foster said the bridge was designed to have the "delicacy of a butterfly". :uhoh: :uhoh:

I would have thought you'd avoid designing a bridge with those qualities...

15th Dec 2004, 11:17
Only a matter of time before the business and townsfolk below try to burn it down as all their passing traffic (desperate and gullible tourists), and hence income, scoots past 900' overhead. They won't be quite so pleased with it once they're all penniless.

How long before those Luddite country bumpkins who burned down the Macdonalds in Millau blockade the bridge as a protest against drop in income caused by lack of vistors to the town?

15th Dec 2004, 11:23
I wonder if us Brits should take note of how the French managed this operation - £292M equates to around a third of what the Dome cost...

15th Dec 2004, 12:47
WG774: yup, and all done without lotto money...?! :O

A few additional comments:

The bridge is guaranteed for 120years...that's even better than what those very expensive Swiss watchmakers offer. I reckon Eiffage (the financier) and Norman Foster didn't look deeply enough into all the possibilities that sponsorship deals might have added to the economics of the project. Imagine a great big version of an Audemars Piguet watch on each of the pylons. Not just for the next generation, but your great grand-children's too... :O And with 7 pylons, you could use 7 languages and 7 time zones to get the message across! Airship will consider serious offers for further consultation on the subject...

As Drapes has already intimated (I know he usually prefers using stronger terms...) it is a very delicate-looking construction. I understand that it has been designed to accommodate 200km/h winds. And strong earthquakes. But would it cope with both at the same time?! :\

witchdoctor, if it sometimes took 4 hours to traverse the valley during a normal summer, then perhaps the few thousand habitants of the village of Millau will be grateful for the new peace. It might even put up the value of their properties. After all, how much would you pay to have a view of 7 Eiffel towers from your living room?! ;)

But I do believe that Millau's mayor Jacques Godfrain has let the village down somewhat. By not insisting that Norman Foster incorporated suitable laybys at each pylon. So that road users could stop in order to admire the view. And take an express elevator down to the village for a different viewpoint...and spend a few €uros there. :(

And so far as Mr. Bove is concerned: The designer is British, lots of Europeans were employed in the construction, the financier and operators are both French. Most importantly, the columns supporting the bridge do not look anything like arches...?! :)

Taking Another View in order To making a Killing, the producers of James Bond may want Airship's help for another even more spell-binding scene...:8

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 13:33
Lets hope those Frenchies don't get some proper winds Measured in Miles per hour then, be buggad then wont they.

Biggles Flies Undone
15th Dec 2004, 13:35
Very true, Drapes. As any schoolboy should be able to tell you - a wind in MPH blows 3/8 harder than one of those sissy KPH ones... ;)

15th Dec 2004, 13:45
I drove from Montpellier to Calais last year, and as we wound down into the Tarn Valley, and trudged back up again to rejoin the A75, the piers of the new bridge were rising tantalisingly in the distance. I can't wait to use it - it means that Calais-Perpignan is do-able in a day with two drivers, or with one driver and a decent rest break.

Magnifique, mes braves!


15th Dec 2004, 13:49
Had a girlfriend once who worked for the mob that built the new one over the severn. I was amazed by her reaction as we drove over it. Suffice to say, the scratches took a week or two to heal.

15th Dec 2004, 13:49
Looking at the pictures of the bridge, I can't help but think that clouds will cause a few problems. There are several pics showing clouds enveloping or at least at the level of the road deck.

Also what are the red "scaffolding" type towers? Are they permenant or left over from construction?

No doubt that it is an impressive structure however. In this country, we'd be on the third re-design, have spent £1bn and have people chaining themselves to things to protect a vital species of maggot.

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 13:50
Geordie Stevenson would have come up with a different engineering solution, he wudda just filled that valley in.

15th Dec 2004, 14:00
Damn, a damn! Drapes is right. The IMF would probably have financed it all too...:O I'd have ensured that Mr. Bove's farm was upstream too...:E

15th Dec 2004, 14:04
The scaffolding towers are left over from construction so will most likely be removed. They had problems finding workers due to the heights. Can't say I blame them I saw the pillars when first being put up with a crane alongside enough to give just about anyone vertigo. Should make trip south an north a lot quicker though, traffic used to be a nightmare on hot days.

15th Dec 2004, 16:34
..........contractor is linked with Gustave Eiffel enterprises, who built the reknown tower in Paris and made a lot of works here and there:
- Viaduc de Garabit 40mn north of Millau on A75, one century old still looking "modern".

Special Bulletin: Jose Bove and friends managed to stop the bridge building for one day to protest against closure of local state clinic in Sainte Affrique.

15th Dec 2004, 17:55
According to my paper today, the bridge has been a tourist attraction since construction started, so income for the local area might actually have increased. Presumably once the fuss has died down it won`t be such a draw though.

Is Norman Foster the Greatest Living Briton? Discuss.

15th Dec 2004, 19:41
Temporary Restricted Zone???

Wonder who will be the first to fly under it....:E :E

Regards, SD..

Not that I would ever contemplate such a thing....

15th Dec 2004, 20:40
Geordie Stevenson would have come up with a different engineering solution, he wudda just filled that valley in.

..and then drilled a tunnel through it? :)

15th Dec 2004, 21:51
Mme. Rapteuse was looking over my shoulder just now, saw the photos, and insisted that we can no longer delay our next trip down that Autoroute until next summer.

Suits me.

tony draper
15th Dec 2004, 22:09
Bridge!!!?One thunk it was a fairground ride.

Noah Zark.
15th Dec 2004, 22:11
There is a documentary on one of the Sky channels showing the bridge being constructed. Very interesting.

16th Dec 2004, 01:15
A very graceful bridge indeed. My favourite is Roebling's Brooklyn effort.

16th Dec 2004, 07:57
My favourite is Roebling's Brooklyn effort.
Can't argue with that! However, you cannot beat walking across the Golden Gate on a sunny day! :ok:

16th Dec 2004, 09:46
For wobbly bridges, try the combined (side-by-side) road/rail bridge over the Volga at Ulyanovsk. Including the approaches, its about 2-3km of neglected rust, fairly regularly dinged by massive barges.:uhoh:

16th Dec 2004, 09:59

There is also the McArthur bridge across the Mississipi at St. Louis.

It was designed as a road/rail bridge but was in such a bad condition the road deck had been closed (leaving only the much heavier trains on it). The husband of one of the secretaries where I worked was a train driver and he described to me the feeling of the bridge (slowly) moving up and down some 4-5 ft. as he drove a 20,000 ton coal train over it.

(Might have been mended since).

16th Dec 2004, 11:37
Town will still be clogged with bloody caravans as all those saddos get chucked off the bridge every time the wind gets up - and I'll bet that's pretty often.

16th Dec 2004, 12:19
Ze Millau viaduct is equipped with speciale panels which cut ze crosswinds by half, designed especially for ze high-sided vehicules. But zis does nothing for ze wind problemes for those inside zere vehicules... :}

Vox Populi
16th Dec 2004, 12:20
A few miles away at Nimes is the Pont du Gard (http://www.gard-provencal.com/an/sites/pontgard.htm), proof that it's all been done before, two thousand years before to be precise.

But must admit the new bridge is breathtaking.

Question is could the bridge have been built in Blighty? Just think of the fuss made in Twyford.

tony draper
16th Dec 2004, 12:36
Well we can claim the first Iron Bridge, the first Railway Bridge, and the first Suspension Bridge.

16th Dec 2004, 13:06
Twyford (if its the one near Winchester) needed a tunnel rather than a bridge

16th Dec 2004, 13:22
Well we can claim the first Iron Bridge, the first Railway Bridge, and the first Suspension Bridge. We can also claim a share in A Bridge Too Far! Uhmmm, lest we forget...

16th Dec 2004, 14:01
Quite agree! There's talk of looking at the possibility of "roofing" it over!!

(Former Winchester resident in case you hadn't guessed!!)

16th Dec 2004, 14:06
I've seen bridges with roofs in the USA. If you added walls, to all intents and purposes, that would make them...;)

Fake Sealion
16th Dec 2004, 14:11
Rather than pore over maps....can a Ppruner tell me which is the nearest UK served airport to the Millau Bridge......quite like to go and see it.....

16th Dec 2004, 15:03
Unless some LoCo flies to Rodez, which I'm not aware of, the closest would be Montpellier.
124 km or 75 miles (for the metrically challenged) (http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/gbr/dyn/controller/ItiWGPerformPage?reinit=1&strStartAddress=aeroport&strStartCity=mauguio&strStartCP=&strStartCityCountry=1424&strDestAddress=&strDestCity=millau&strDestCP=&strDestCityCountry=1424&x=26&y=12)

lots of nice places to see in the area : Gorges du Tarn, Aven Armand, Mt Aigoual, Mt Lozère, etc.

16th Dec 2004, 15:50
And as the corbeau (crow) flies, eet is not much farther away from the Pyrénées, but I'm not sure of the bearing in this case. Anyway, that's where they shoot ze teddy bears. :sad:

16th Dec 2004, 16:20
On the first day of operations the Milhau bridge toll has been occupied by local protesting against country "desertification"(another French word!).: closure of post offices, clinics and schools in small cities and villages.

You could get the ride for free!

Stop claiming Tony: t'was done before!

16th Dec 2004, 16:29
M. Bre:

Ryanair flies to Rodez and appears to be offering seats from one UK penny, plus taxes.

Dick Fisher
16th Dec 2004, 18:36
Struggling through the gridlock that used to be Millau before the bridge a few summers ago, I saw the first signs of construction of the amazing bridge.

My instant reaction was that only the French do this kind of thing. Other correspondents are right. In the UK, we would have had public enquiries for twenty years before a sod was turned (building expression!) The French (right or wrong) just get on with it.

I also drove through Boulogne early one morning a couple of years ago and out of the mist came the viaduct which spans a massive valley near the town. It dominates the valley that it crosses, and yet it is a thing of beauty! But I can't help but wonder what the good folks of Boulogne thought when they saw the original plans for the bridge!

16th Dec 2004, 19:40
Am visiting Nimes this weekend and will try to get a friend in Montpellier to take me up to see it!

Can't wait to get this PPL!