10 November 2014

French Bridges: 5. Rhone Railway Bridge, Avignon

I can tell you almost nothing about this bridge. It's just a big viaduct which carries the railway across the River Rhone at Avignon.

It lies relatively close to the water, and so gives some idea of the river's scale. At this point, the river is about 450m wide, and the bridge totals about 560m long, as it also spans highways and flood defences on both banks. Each individual span is about 75m.

The bridge is brilliant in its single-mindedness, comprising braced steel lattice truss girders unvarying in height, supported on masonry piers within the river. There's often something exquisitely beautiful about a bridge which appears to make no concession to beauty.

The most visually interesting feature of the bridge is surely one which was unintentional. The latticework on the trusses uses large diagonal elements which are formed out of steel angles. These inevitably create a pattern of light and shadow on the face of the girders. The arrangement has been alternated between spans, so that on a sunny day, each span of the bridge appears to alternative between a dark and light colour (third photo below).

Further information:


crisb said...

It may have been built by the one and only Gustave Eiffel. Google searches such as "Viaduc Rhône Avignon Gustave Eiffel" throw up a number of pictures which look like this bridge, and it does bear hallmarks of some of his other work. There must be a lot more to be learnt about this bridge?

The Happy Pontist said...

I've had a look through Google images, and think you are very probably right.

crisb said...

I don't know if you found this link, but if this is accurate it could add a timeline to the bridge.


The Happy Pontist said...

That definitely looks like the correct bridge. So: built circa 1905.

Nicolas Janberg said...

The following gives a history of the bridge (in French)

Structurae will be updated accordingly

The Happy Pontist said...

Thank you Nicolas, very helpful.