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The beautiful Millau Viaduct in France opens for traffic

May be not an imaging news item at first sight, but the Millau Viaduct in France will certainly attract many amateur and professional photographers to its beautiful silhouette and surroundings. This new viaduct is taller than the Eiffel Tower and longer than the Champs Elysee. It runs across the valley of the river Tarn and unblocks the notorious route from Paris to Spain...
Visit the Millau Viaduct website


A real alternative to the Rhône Valley route, the Millau Viaduct and the 40 extra kilometres of the A75 motorway will open to traffic on 17 December. The Viaduct will be opened on 14 December by Monsieur Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic.

A real local asset, it will “unblock” the notorious Millau bottleneck, saving 30 minutes under normal conditions and up to almost 4 hours on some weekends in the summer, on the journey across the gorges of the Tarn.

A real national and international asset, it will enable road hauliers to reduce significantly the journey times for their lorries - 45 minutes on the Paris – Perpignan, Paris – Barcelona or Amsterdam – Perpignan routes.
As the Rhône valley route was often close to saturation point, these time savings, calculated on the basis of normal traffic levels, could be even greater, particularly as the crossing at Lyon was often clogged up.

In addition, this new route will enable savings of up to 34 Euros in toll fees per journey, without counting the saving on petrol as part of the journey is 60 kilometres shorter.

Everything has been thought of and provided to ensure the comfort and safety of road-users when they cross the viaduct. The viaduct will therefore have:
- specially designed safety barriers that can withstand impact from heavy lorries.
- transparent windbreak screens 3 m. high to limit the effect of the wind on vehicles.
- emergency lanes 3 metres wide.
- emergency phones every 500 metres.

Responsibility for operating the Viaduct has been granted to the Eiffage Group for 75 years, specifically to the Compagnie Eiffage du Millau Viaduct (CEVM). A surveillance and control centre will monitor the viaduct round-the-clock. It will be equipped with high-performance security equipment such as:
- Video surveillance linked to an automatic incident-detection system that will immediately inform the control centre if there is any anomaly in the traffic
- Automatic video recording
- A vehicle counting facility
- Weather stations
- Programmable message boards enabling information to be issued instantaneously.

Road users will also be able to enjoy the countryside and the rest areas which, according to one company director, “enable drivers to have some fresh air, where there is plenty of space to relax in a most beautiful environment”!

The Millau Viaduct, perfectly integrated into this “beautiful environment”, is the highest bridge in the world (world height record with pier P2 at 343 metres).

The combined technologies of steel and concrete provide beauty and high performance for this structure which will have to work perfectly for the agreed term of 120 years.

More images at French website

Additional information: Visit the Millau Viaduct website
December 16, 2004
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