Day 342/365 of Steel – Chaban-Delmas Bridge

Inauguration of the The Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge in Bordeaux on March 16, 2013.

A true architectural and technical feat, the Chaban-Delmas Bridge, stands out as the highest vertical lift bridge in France and Europe. Everything is complex in this technically demanding structure, and everything called for innovation. The choice for a streamlined box deck between four particularly modern pylons, fulfilled the urban planning objectives, the functional program, and the operating and maintenance requirements, as well as the ambition to design an elegant structure.

The Jacques-Chaban-Delmas bridge lifted in Bordeaux , day of its inauguration.
Fig 1: The Jacques-Chaban-Delmas bridge lifted in Bordeaux , day of its inauguration.
Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0, A. Delesse (Prométhée)

Due to its complex geometry and the multiple interfaces between the civil engineering and electrical and mechanical equipment, the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge was conceived using a complete 3D digital model right from the design phase.

To pre-empt the complications of manufacturing in the bed of the River Garonne, which is subject to strong tidal flows, the concrete structures were prefabricated, merely 5 km away from the site.

Pont Jaques-Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux, France
Fig 2: Pont Jaques-Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux, France
Photo: Monster4711

The three-girder bridge decks with metal caissons and a concrete slab, each travelled 5,500 km by barge from Venice to Bordeaux. It took several hours to place them on their bases, factoring in the tides and to an accuracy of a few cm. Weighing 2,500 tons and measuring 117 m long and 45 m wide, the central lift span has the same surface area as a football pitch!

The lifting span is raised and lowered by a simple and proven lifting mechanism similar to that of a giant elevator. Each end of the mobile deck is suspended from each of the pylons by ten cables wound around a 4-metre diameter pulley wheel installed atop the pylons. These suspension cables are connected to the tops of counterweights fitted in each of the four pylons.

The bridge was build by a consortium including Egis , VINCI ,Cimolai GroupJEAN MULLER INTERNATIONAL (JMI) , Michel Virlogeux and Lavigne-Cheron Architects.

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.

You May Also Like

Day 19/365 of Steel – The Gherkin

On the 28th of April 2004, The Gherkin was officially inaugurated. Norman Foster (architect) and Ove Arup (engineering) created a true masterpiece in skyscraper engineering. The Gherkin is an example…
Read More

Day 2/365 of Steel – Roy Hofheinz

Roy Hofheinz was born on the 10th of april 1912. As co-owner of HSA (Houston Sports Association) he was the driving force behind the construction of the famous Astrodome. The…
Read More

Day 29/365 of Steel – Menashe Kadishman

Menashe Kadishman (21/8/1932 – 8/5/2015) I discovered Kadishman’s work during our visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.The Memory Void, one of the symbolic spaces on the ground level of…
Read More