Day 205/365 of Steel – Dom Luis I Bridge

Bridge-building, a great export product from Belgium.

Inauguration of the Dom Luis I Bridge (30 October 1886)

Luís I Bridge, Porto, Portugal
Fig 1: Luís I Bridge, Porto, Portugal
Photo: Peter K Burian

The Dom Luís I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. At its construction, its 172 m span was the longest of its type in the world.

Dom Luís I Bridge
Fig 2: Dom Luís I Bridge
Photo: Deensel

It has been confused with the nearby Maria Pia Bridge, a railway bridge that was built 9 years earlier, which is similar in aspect to the Luís I bridge. In 1982, the bridge was designated a cultural heritage.

Dom Luís I Bridge
Fig 3: Dom Luís I Bridge
Photo: Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA

A competition was initiated in November 1880, in order to construct a double-deck metal bridge. On 21 November 1881, the public work was awarded to the SA des Ateliers de Construction de Willebroek (Belgium). The project was to be led by Théophile Seyrig, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel.

The iron bridge has two decks, of differing heights and widths, between which develops a 172.5 m diameter, central arch supporting the upper and lower decks. Both decks are moored to the riverbanks by means of masonry piers.

Dom Luís I Bridge during construction
Fig 4: Dom Luís I Bridge during construction
Photo: Info / Pic

Those in the upper deck, are rectangular with a trimmed cornice finish, consisting of two staggered registers separated by cornice and interlacing struts. The lower deck is based on large foundations supporting molded cornices and wedges linked together by a felled arch, and framed by interlacing beams. At the base of the lower deck, are iron-pillared, pyramidal-truncated pillars, erected in three sections, that attach to the upper deck.

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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