Bridges have always held a fascination for mankind and have inspired planners and designers to create some of their finest work. One of the greatest achievements in bridge building in the last ten years is the Millau Viaduct in southern France. This suspension bridge with a height of 270 metres spans the Tarn valley near the town of Millau. French engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Sir Norman Foster have created a masterpiece. The Millau Viaduct presents a striking image, beautifully silhouetted against the landscape. The viaduct is composed of seven reinforced concrete piers supporting a steel deck topped by pylons with span lengths of 342 metres. At a height of 343 metres, the bridge is not only one of the tallest suspension bridges in the world, but also exactly matches the height of the Eifel Tower in Paris. Since it opened in 2004 more than 37 million vehicles have traversed its 2.5 km length.
In his lecture, Michel Virlogeux described the development of the project from conception to completion and related interesting technical details. He also discussed other projects such as the Térénez Bridge in Brittany.
Dr. Michel Virlogeux is one of the best known bridge construction engineers in Europe. He has been working as a freelance consultant for twenty years. As an engineer in the French civil service between 1970 and 1994 he designed hundreds of bridges, most of them in France. He was also much in demand as an expert for various large-scale projects, notably the Evripos Bridge in Greece (designed by Jörg Schlaich).
Michel Virlogeux is responsible for ground-breaking technical developments in the field of pre-stressed concrete with external tendons, suspension bridges and composite materials. Many of his bridges, including the Millau Viaduct, have received numerous awards. As a member or president of various professional and industry associations, Michel Virlogeux continues to make a valuable contribution to the development of the bridge construction profession.
The Millau Viaduct is the successful outcome of a number of steps, each of which required a maximum of accuracy, precision and professionalism.