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Bridge should win turner prize

Réseau Ferré de France wants people to think again about the Viaduc de Caronte

APART from the Millau bridge in the Gard, few bridges can be thought of as beautiful, but the Réseau Ferré de France wants people to think again about the Viaduc de Caronte that stands above the canal linking the étang de Berre with the Mediterranean.

It has put the girder bridge, which swivels round a central pier to let ships pass, on its list of rail network works of art after a €2 million renovation project that upgraded its electrical and electro-mechanical systems.

The Bouches-du-Rhône masterpiece was built in 1914 for the rail link between Marseille, Miramas and L’Estaque. Blown up by the Germans in September 1944, it was restored two years later as a temporary lift-span to get the line moving again. In 1954, the original builders, Schneider, rebuilt it to its previous specifications.

The bridge is 943 metres long with three sections and, when open, allows ships up to 43m wide to pass. When closed, it is 23m to the bottom girders.

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