Day 161/365 of Steel – Briare Canal Bridge

Inauguration of the Briare Canal Bridge on 16 September 1896

Did you know that about a hundred canal bridges have been built in France over the centuries? The Briare Canal is the oldest canal in France, having been built under Henry IV. And its famous bridge, the Briare Canal Bridge, is in the top 5 of the French people’s favorite monuments, in 4th place!

Pont-canal de Briare
Fig 1: Pont-canal de Briare

The bridge-canal is a jewel of the French river heritage built by the Eiffel company and Dayde & Pillé between 1890 and 1896. The reputation of the Briare canal-bridge is due to the technical, human and aesthetic prowess of the construction engineers. The mission of the canal-bridge was to span the Loire River to allow barges to link the Berry Canal and the Canal Latéral à la Loire directly with the Briare Canal, thus connecting the Saône and Seine basins.

Pont-canal de Briare
Fig 2: Pont-canal de Briare
Photo: © J. Damase – CRT Centre Val-de-Loire

The result is commensurate with the ambitions and the means employed: no less than 662 m long, supported by 15 spans of 40 m long and 11.50 m wide, all suspended 11 m above the river and weighing 13.680 tonnes. Although it was not the first, the Briare canal bridge was for a long time the longest metal canal bridge in the world. It was only dethroned in 2003 by the Magdeburg canal bridge over the Elbe, which measures 918 metres.

Plan du Pont-Canal de Briare
Fig 3: Plan du Pont-Canal de Briare
Photo: Pierre Moreau, ingénieur des Ponts, avant 1890

Its 62 candelabras and four lantern-carrying obelisks trace a luminous path through the night, reflected in the water. Listed in the supplementary inventory of historic monuments, the Briare canal bridge is now mainly used for pleasure craft, but also for walking on the esplanades on either side of the canal.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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