• Capabilities: Architectural Design , Engineering , Civil Engineering , Structural Engineering
  • Sectors: Highways and Intelligent Transport Systems , Public Sector , Transportation , Government
  • Region: Europe , France

A world-class bridge, a unique blend of architectural and structural design

Millau, France - For many years, local authorities had been trying to solve the problem of acute traffic bottlenecks in the town of Millau, on the main north-south route between Paris and the Mediterranean. In the summer months, the situation worsened with drivers taking almost three hours to cross the steeply sloped valley. A radical solution to the traffic bottleneck was required: a structure that carries the A75 highway safely “from causse to causse” (high plateaus that characterize the region) across the 250 m deep and 2,5 km wide valley of the River Tarn. To respect the beautiful scenery of the area, an outstanding design was needed.

4.8 million

vehicles annually

1 million

people visit the landmark annually for sight-seeing

"A monument to French daring and enterprise” – French President Jacques Chirac, 2004

With the architect Lord Norman Foster, Michel Virlogeux, SODETEG and SERF, Arcadis designed a state-of-the art multi-span cable stayed bridge with pre-stressed high performance concrete for piers and high strength steel for decks and pylons. It is the world’s longest multipier cable-stayed bridge, at just 40 m short of 2.5 km, and the highest at 343 m. Seven piers step across the valley over the River Tarn to support the deck. Its form perfectly fits its function and structural behavior. The result is a striking and elegant structure. The bridge is intended to last for at least 120 years.

“The Millau viaduct takes its place among our most shining works of civil engineering. It brilliantly embodies the verve of our research and technology. A monument to French daring and enterprise” – French President Jacques Chirac, December 2004.
The outcomes for the client and the area

• An outstanding landmark bridge, taking only three years to complete, three months ahead of schedule and on budget
• Opening up a direct route from Paris to Barcelona
• Transforming traffic flow and eliminating bottlenecks in the town of Millau each year. Nearly 4.8 million vehicles pass through the tolls, 10% of which are trucks
• The so-called “Millau effect”: the bridge has been so successful worldwide that it has brought a new economic development to the town of Millau and its region. One million visitors stop at the Millau viaduct site every year. 

Outcomes

4.8 million

vehicles annually

1 million

people visit the landmark annually for sight-seeing

2.5 km

length of the bridge