The Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge is a new vertical lift bridge in Bordeaux crossing the Garonne River to connect the Bacalan district in the west of Bordeaux and the Bastide district in the east. Earning the title as the largest lift bridge in Europe, the central span of 117 meters long, 2600 tonnes, rises to a staggering height of 53 meters in order to allow passenger liners and large sailboats to pass underneath. It has an out-to-out width of approximately 43 meters.
The lift span has a symmetric cross section and can carry four traffic lanes – two monorail tracks and two outboard sidewalk or bikeways. There are four independent pylon towers built at each corner of the lift span that will allow a counterweight to travel vertically inside each pylon.
The new bridge is set to be operational by March 2013. This new and beautiful bridge will expectedly face many challenges including traffic flow improvement, timely passage of water vessels, and creating a realm of closeness among the city’s neighborhoods. The Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge is another urban structure added to Bordeaux’s architectural heritage.
The lift span will be operational using high strength wire ropes passing over sheaves connecting the lift span to the counterweights. To raise and lower the span, a wire rope winch drive operating system complete with electric motor and flux vector regenerative drives that will haul in and compensate the counterweights.
The new bridge is 433 m long 43 m wide. It includes two lanes intended for public transport – lanes exclusively for buses, four lanes for vehicle traffic and two 4 meter wide pathways for pedestrians’ and cyclists’ use. The bridge’s surface area of more than 5000 square meters is equivalent to a football pitch that rises into the air. The overall height from base to peak is 77 meters and each counterweight is 638 tonnes, controlled by the two motors in the bridge’s base.
The time it takes to raise or lower the bridge is 11 minutes with little noise. On either side, two small islands intended to absorb any impact in case a boat accidentally strikes the bridge, serve as the bridge’s protection. The exceptional bridge is designed to carry an average of 43,000 vehicles per day, lifting some 50 per year.
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