Friday, May 8, 2009

Seine River Bridges: Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The River Seine makes a giant 'U' as it flows through the City of Paris. The next bridge downstream (the Pont de Bir-Hakeim) crosses the Seine as it turns to the south on it's way out of Paris. It is actually two bridges that connect the 15th and 16th arrondissements to the Ile de Cygnes. The river widens around the island and so the bridge is 237 m (778 ft) long compared to 155 m (510 ft) for the Pont d'Iena just upstream. The island was built to protect the Port de Grenelle along it's Left Bank, although the slow-moving river tends to build islands and sand bars on it's own.
The Pont de Bir-Hakeim is a six span, double-deck, steel arch that carries trains and light rail on the top deck and cars and pedestrians on the bottom deck. The top deck is on columns supported by the deck arches below. The bottom deck is considerably wider (24.7 m) than the top deck (7.3 m). It is similar to the Pont de Bercy upstream, only in steel instead of stone.

The bridge was built in 1905 but it was called the Passy Viaduct until 1948 when it was renamed after a battle in the Libyan Desert during WWII.  It's covered by a variety of decorations.  The large, stone arch at the center of the bridge supports statues represent science and commerce, while riveters and boatmen decorate every pier, the top deck has plates commemorating fallen soldiers of WWII, and the supporting columns had ornamentation that was removed when the bridge was strengthened. 
Creative Commons License
Seine River Bridges: Pont de Bir-Hakeim by Mark Yashinsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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