Millau Viaduct: Creating an Engineering Marvel

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : PROM006
Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 2001-2004
Organization : Eiffage TP
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : France
Industry : Construction

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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"The Millau viaduct takes its place among our most shining works of civil engineering. It brilliantly embodies the verve of our research and technology. The French people are rightly proud of the feats accomplished here – feats which speak for France."1

- Jacques Chirac, President of France, in 2004.

"We were attracted by the elegance and logic of a structure that would march across the heroic landscape and in the most minimal way connect one plateau to the other. We were driven by the scale of the idea and the shared passion for the poetic dimension of engineering and its sculptural potential."2

- Lord Norman Foster, Architect of the Millau viaduct, in 2004.

Introduction

On December 17, 2004, the Millau viaduct3, constructed over the Tarn Valley in the southern region of France, was inaugurated by the French President Jacques Chirac (Chirac). The viaduct, standing 343 meters tall, was the world's tallest cable stayed bridge4 (See Exhibit I for a photograph of the Millau Viaduct).

The viaduct was named after Millau, a small town in the middle of the Tarn Valley5. The viaduct over the Tarn Valley was proposed to ease the traffic congestion on the A75 motorway, which connected the French towns of Clermont Ferrand and Beziers. A multiple cable stayed bridge with seven piers, designed by a team consisting of engineer Michel Virlogeux (Virlogeux) and architect Lord Norman Foster (Foster), was selected as the best possible solution in 1996.

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The Government of France (GoF) invited tenders in June, 2000, to award the contract for the construction project. Eiffage Group TP (Eiffage) won the bid. Eiffage along with its subsidiaries and partners constructed the viaduct, raising the funds required on its own. Eiffage was to earn returns on its investment through the collection of toll charges.

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The construction of the Millau viaduct began with the building of the concrete piers in December 2001. Later, the steel deck, which was fabricated at off-site production plants, was assembled and pushed onto the piers from the two sides of the valley using hydraulic jacks. After the deck was joined in the middle, the pylons6, cable stays7, and side barriers were fixed.

The construction of the Millau viaduct involved the use of cutting-edge technology and satellite guided GPS systems. The Millau viaduct was not only an engineering marvel but also a well planned and executed project. With the viaduct operational, motorists would be able to cross the valley in 20 minutes as opposed to the three-hour drive (during summer) that was required earlier.

Millau Viaduct: Creating an Engineering Marvel - Next Page>>


1] "France unveils its motorway in the clouds," www.timesonline.co.uk, December 14, 2004.

2] "France's grand Millau viaduct open and tolling," www.tollroadsnews.com, December 27, 2004.

3] The term viaduct is derived from Latin. The word via stands for road and ductus means 'to conduct something'. Viaduct is a bridge consisting of several smaller spans.

4] A cable stayed bridge consists of one or more piers with cables supporting the roadway.

5] The Tarn River flows through the Tarn Valley surrounded by the Larzac plateau.

6] A pylon provides support to the deck of the bridge.

7] Cable stays are generally cables fixed to one or more pillars on a bridge giving support to the deck of the bridge.

 

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