14 May 2016

French Bridges: 8. Railway Bridge, Nice

I'm going to feature a couple of bridges that I found last time I was in Nice, France.

I've done my best to find any information on this three-span masonry arch bridge, which carries a twin-track railway line in Nice across the Paillon, a seasonal river which is exposed here, but buried in a tunnel in most of the city centre.

I don't know when it was built, or by who, so please feel free to add information in the comments, if you can.

What I like most about this bridge is its clear, clean lines. Seen from far enough way, it could be mistaken for a concrete bridge, due to its sharp, hard lines and general lack of texture.

Seen closer to hand, the scale of the facing arch voussoir blocks is impressive. From below, it can be seen that the bridge isn't really made from such large blocks, but from more conventional coursed masonry.

The paleness and the hard edges to the masonry indicate that this is a well-engineered bridge, a work of rigour and certainty.

The bridge deck has been widened in concrete at some stage, but the lightweight balustrades ensure this has little visual impact.

The concrete "boats" which have been placed around the original stone piers are one of the bridge's least attractive features. The original stonework is left marooned, like a giant stepping across a river with her feet in saucepans.

Additional piers have been inserted halfway along the river spans, which help support a lower-level roadway bridge adjacent to the railway structure. Oddly, I don't think these are such a bad feature - they seem sufficiently divorced from the bridge above that it shrugs off their intrusion.

The addition of overhead electrification is less successful, with one support point above a pier, another above an end pilaster, and one in an awkward position part way long a span. It's hard to believe it would have cost much more to position every support symmetrically above the piers.

The bridge is generally in very good condition, except for a few areas of staining and this area of damage to a lower edge.

1 comment:

Bridge Ink said...

A charming simile! "like a giant stepping across a river with her feet in saucepans."