The Viaur Viaduct
Paul Bodin (1847-1926)
Living in Albi, his adopted town, Paul Bodin enters in 1874 the Batignolles Buiding Society as an engineer. In 1903, he becomes the President of the France’s Society of Civil Engineers. He teaches at the Central School of Paris until 1919. He contributed to the construction of other bridges in Russia, China and Greece.
A MAJESTIC PIECE OF ART
In 1889, Paul Bodin’s construction draft prevails over the one from the famous Gustave Eiffel, during a national competition. His project is bolder, innovative and cheaper.
What’s new ?
A technique called « balanced arches » that consists in lightening the weight on the articulated central key thanks to a counterbalancing effect. It permits the central arch to loose its shape under the influence of the load supported as trains pass.
Unveiled in 1902, the Viaur Viaduct links Tarn & Aveyron. It favours the economic development, bringing the liming technique that makes the earth fertile. Rye farming replaces wheat or corn. From now on, the population is gathered in villages close to stations.
Figures as high as the Viaduct :
- 116m high – 460m long
- 7 years of works (1895-1902)
- 3800 tons of steel
- 160 tons of rivets crimped by hand
THE VIAUR VIADUCT : IN THE RUNNING FOR THE UNESCO
The Viaur Viaduct with 5 other European bridges is in the running for the UNESCO nomination, inside the category “metallic bridges with a single big arch, built in late 19th century”.
This large-scale project starts in Germany. The officials of Solingen in North-Rhines-Westphalia suggest this project. At that time, 5 bridges are gathered : the Maria Pia and Dom Luis 1 Bridges in Portugal, the San Michele Bridge in Italy, the Müngsten Bridge in Germany and the Garabit Viaduct in Cantal (a “département”, an administrative area in France). Last but not least, the Viaur Viaduct is invited to take part in the adventure.
This is a plan for the years to come that gathers together the Pays Ségali and Ségala Carmausin local authorities. It is a long way to go before reaching the goal set. However, it is a rare and rewarding challenge to take up! Besides, it inspired vintage car lovers who created “The 6 Bridges Rally”.
The project was taken to a new level when the viaduct was listed among the Historic Monuments on December 28th, 2021.