02 Mar 01
Millau Viaduct contract awarded to Eiffage JV
A joint venture between Eiffage Construction and Eiffel has been chosen as the concessionaire for the project to build the Millau Viaduct in the south of France. Negotiations are now under way between the Eiffage JV and the Ministry of Transport with the aim of finalising a concession contract by summer of this year. No public subsidy will be required for the project, with the cost of construction, estimated at around FF2 billion (US$285 million) being entirely funded by the concessionaire. The 2.5km long viaduct will form the final link in the new A75 motorway between Clermont-Ferrand and Beziers - and in more global terms, the road link between Paris and Barcelona - and will carry the road across the Tarn river to the west of Millau. The original design, by architect Foster & Partners, and consultants Sogelerg, EEG and Serf, was for a concrete cable-stayed bridge with seven towers rising to 235m and with 350m long spans. Eiffage has also put forward a steel alternative which would involve the deck being launched from the side of the valley. The agreement with the government allows for the new bridge to be brought into service by summer 2004, but the length of concession being proposed by Eiffage, believed to be 75 years, confirms fears that recouping the cost of the massive bridge from toll payments will be a slow process.