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University of Zagreb, Faculty of Civil Engineering Zagreb, Croatia Key words: Arch bridge, world-record spans, concrete, composite deck, steel deck, highstrength concrete, Europe Abstract: This paper provides an overview of long-span concrete arch bridges in Europe. World-record spans prior to 1997 are highlighted (Albert Louppe Bridge in France, Sand Bridge in Sweden, Arrbida Bridge in Portugal and Krk Bridge in Croatia). An overview of recent long-span concrete arch bridges in Europe reveals new trends in arch bridge design. The bridges of wider deck are nowadays required in comparison to concrete arch bridges constructed up to the 1980s. Arch bridge design today thus often employs composite (Chateaubriand and Morbihan Bridges in France, Wilde Gera Bridge in Germany, Arco de los Tilos Bridge in the Canary Islands, Skradin Bridge in Croatia) or steel superstructure (Svinesund II Bridge in Norway/Sweden), and high strength concrete (Tercer Milenio Bridge in Spain) aimed at reducing dead load, with additional effort to design aesthetically pleasing forms and details.

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Over the past century, a world-record concrete arch span has moved from one country to another, but has departed Europe for only third of that time. Many of these record-span concrete arch bridges are in one way or another associated with great Eugne Freyssinet. Indeed, he was also a consulting engineer with particular input on construction method [1] for the Gladesville Bridge which took the record from Europe to Australia from 1964 to 1980, so it is only appropriate to start this overview of long-span concrete arch bridges in Europe with a description of his achievements.
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 Bridge Country Year 1997 1980 1995 1996 1964 1964 2003 1997 1983 1963 2003 1943 1991 2000 2004 2000 2005 1966 1998 1980 1990 1989 1961 1952 1993 1999 2001 2003 2008 1961 1967 1942 2007 2005 1982 1996 1997 2001 1989 Span [m] 420 390 330 312 305 290 280 280 272 270 265 264 261 260 255 252 247 246 245 244 240 235 231 228 224 223 220 218 216 211 210 210 205 204 204 201 200 200 200 Type deck deck deck half-through deck deck deck n/a deck deck deck deck deck deck deck deck half-through deck deck deck half-through deck deck n/a deck deck deck deck through half-through deck deck deck deck deck deck deck deck deck Deck width [m] 24 11.4 13.4 18.9 27-36.6 13.5 20 n/a 16 25 18 12 12 9.25 12 25.5 2x11 10.5 18 11.4 19.5 21.4 n/a n/a 10.5 30 2x12.6 7.7 43 19 10.3 8.4 n/a 22.5 21.9 20.3 20.0 9.0 12.0 Deck type concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete n/a concrete concrete composite concrete composite concrete composite composite steel concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete concrete composite concrete concrete concrete concrete n/a composite concrete composite concrete concrete n/a

Wanxian China Krk I Croatia Jiangjiehe China Yongjiang China Gladesville Australia Amizade Brazil/Paraguay Infante D. Henrique Portugal Chishi Datong China Bloukrans South Africa Arrbida Portugal Fujikawa Japan Sand Sweden Chateaubriand France Takamatu Japan Los Tilos Spain Wilde Gera Germany Svinesund II Norway/Sweden ibenik Croatia Barelang Indonesia Krk II Croatia Xiaonanmen China Beppu-Myouban Japan Fiumarella Italy Zaporoze (road&rail) Ukraine Rio Zezere Portugal Kyll Valley Germany Xugou China Kashirajima Japan Tercer Milenio Spain eelj (destroyed) Serbia Lingenau Austria Esla (railway) Spain Xingduicha China Skradin Croatia Usagawa Japan Morbihan France Maslenica Croatia Ikeda Hesokko Japan Ohashi FuLing China

Table 1: Longest-span concrete arch bridges

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Eugne Freyssinet was one of the world's most prominent engineers, a brilliant inventor, passionate and creative builder. He endeavoured to raise the limits of the use of concrete by building large bridges and various other structures, winning three successive world records for concrete arch bridge spans [2]: - Villeneuve-sur-Lot Bridge, 96 m-span concrete arch (1914-1920) - Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray Bridge over Seine, 131 m-span reinforced concrete arch (1922-1923) - Albert Louppe Bridge at Plougastel on the Elorn, 3 reinforced concrete arches of 186 m span each (1925-1930) The arch of Villeneuve-sur-Lot Bridge is very slightly reinforced, and it is in effect regarded as an unreinforced concrete arch bridge. The spandrel system to carry the roadway consists of succession of columns and semi-circular arches, all in brick [3]. Albert Louppe Bridge is a crossing of Elorn estuary near Brest, in Brittany, France. According to Billington [4] it was the elegance of his construction procedures both visually and in concept [that] made Freyssinet world-famous both to engineers and architects. Indeed, each segmental arch of this bridge 186 m in span, 27.5 m in rise, of hollow box cross-section (9.1x4.5 m) was concreted on timber centering, built onshore, tied end to end for stability and floated into place from one arch to the next, on custom-built concrete barges [5]. Another of Freyssinet bridge world records, albeit not in arch span length, but in arch slenderness was held by Veurdre Bridge (1912). The 1/15 slenderness ratio of Veurdre Bridge matched that of the famous Alexandre III Bridge built in 1903 in steel. Veurdre Bridge was destroyed during the World War II, but its twin Boutiron Bridge whose design is identical although it comprises somewhat smaller spans, is approaching 100 years of service remarkably preserved [6].

Figure 1: Albert-Louppe Bridge France (left) and Viaduct Martn Gil Spain (right)

Sand Bridge took over the title of the worlds longest arch span from Albert-Louppe Bridge, and held onto it for 20 years. The bridge was built in 1943 across ngerman river in northern Sweden. It is a thin, single-ribbed, reinforced concrete arch with a span of 260

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metres, rising 39 metres above the river. Sand Bridge was preceded by another long-span reinforced concrete arch bridge (Traneberg Bridge of 181 m span in Stockholm) designed by Swedish bridge engineers, but with Eugne Freyssinet acting as the consultant.

Figure 2: Long-span arches of Sweden: Sand Bridge (left) and Traneberg Bridge (right) A catastrophic disaster is associated with Sand Bridge. The middle section of the bridge collapsed during the casting process due to washing away of one set of falsework, killing 18 construction workers. The new centering was of much more conservative design, with very close spacing of piers supporting the formwork. This particular incident prompted the Spanish engineer Torroja to adopt the Melan method for 210-m span of Esla Railway Bridge (Viaducto Martn Gil) a few months later. The Melan method, developed already in 1898 consists of constructing a steel truss arch of the same span as the definitive concrete arch, serving as both scaffolding and as reinforcement. Originally, a timber centering was built for Esla Bridge [7], but it suffered from lack of maintenance during the years of Spanish Civil War, and was thus used to erect steel arch truss, but was removed before concreting [8]. Despite the tragedy, Sand Bridge was masterpiece of structural engineering. The bridge was renovated after 1997 and re-opened in 2003.

Although it is difficult to compete with great structures like Eiffels Maria Pia Bridge or Seyrigs Dom Lus I Bridge, there are two outstanding large-span concrete arch bridges in Porto, Portugal. Arrbida Bridge from 1963, the most downstream bridge across Douro river, was a world record span for only two years, when it fell 35 m short of Gladesville Bridge spanning the Parramatta river upstream from Sydney harbour and 20 m of Ponte de Amizade (Friendship Bridge) uniting Paraguay and Brazil across river Paran. Designed by famous Portuguese bridge engineer Edgar Cardoso, its overall length of 493 m includes reinforced concrete arch spanning 270 m with a rise of 52 m. The arch consists of two 8-m wide double-cell box ribs, joined by diagonal bracing. Arrbida Bridge is without a doubt an exceptionally beautiful structure. The bridge carries 25-m wide roadway, 70-m above the water level. However, its location, just a few kilometers from Atlantic Ocean, resulted in significant structural deterioration after 4 decades of service delamination, spalling and reinforcement exposure [9]. Arrbida Bridge was constructed on steel centering, which was assembled much in the same way as for Freyssinets three viaducts on Caracas-La Guaira motorway in Venezuela [10] (Caracas viaducts completed in 1953 were the first, if only partial, application of

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cantilever concrete arch construction; unfortunately, Viaduct No.1, has been plagued by gradual landslides from the 1980s onward, and has collapsed two years ago [11]). The Arrbida Bridge centering comprised of four steel arch ribs, joined together by horizontal and vertical bracing. As on Caracas viaducts, the end sections of the centering were erected first using stays anchored into on-shore piers, and then the central section was hoisted into place. After the downstream arch rib was concreted, the centering was moved into place to complete the second rib, and finally, manoeuvred in between the arch ribs to concrete the diagonal bracing.

Figure 3: Arrbida bridge in Porto Infante Dom Henrique (Prince Henry) Bridge is an elegant Maillart-type deck-stiffened arch bridge, soaring 75 m above Douro. Designed by Antnio Ado da Fonseca, the 4.5-m deep prestressed concrete box girder deck, 380 m long and 20 m wide is elastically supported by arch of 280 m span and 1/11.2 rise-to-span ratio. This flexible arch made out of straight segments, has a depth of only 1.5 m. The bridge was constructed with cantilever method, in which deck (in tension), arch (in compression) and permanent and provisional supports and provisional cables formed a truss. Provisional columns were erected on both river banks to reduce the span during construction [12].

Figure 4: Infante Dom Henrique Bridge in Porto (Eiffels Maria Pia Bridge and Cardosos Sao Joo Bridge are visible in the background on the left photo)

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Krk Bridge returned the world record concrete arch span to Europe in 1980, surpassing the Gladesville Bridge main span by 85 m. Designed by Ilija Stojadinovi, Krk Bridge consists of two long-span reinforced concrete arches of 390 m and 244 m span.

Figure 5: Krk Bridges

Figure 6: Krk I Bridge: cantilever construction (left) and arch support (right) Both arches are of three-cell box cross-section: 8x4 m for the smaller, and 13x6.5 m for the longer one. They were constructed by cantilever method in two stages. First, the centre box cell was constructed of precast panels for the top and bottom plates and two interior webs. Longitudinal and transverse joints were concreted on site. An innovative cantilever erection scheme was devised, in which the arch rib, concrete spandrel columns, temporary steel tension tie top chords and diagonals were combined to form a truss. After the hydraulic jacks in the crown of the centre cell of the arch rib were activated, temporary steel ties were removed and two outside arch cells were constructed of precast panels with cast-in-place joints, using centre portion of the arch rib for support. The 390-m span is not founded on shore, instead arch springs from supports formed by an inclined strut and horizontal beam and located around 35 m away from the shoreline. The inclined struts on both sides of the sea strait are founded 19 m below the sea level. To achieve this exceptionally large span it was necessary to reduce the dead load as much as possible. The structural members of minimum statically admissible size were utilized, with very small concrete cover of 2.5 cm for the bridge superstructure. Besides, the entire construction procedure had to be adapted to equipment available on site only two cablecranes of 10 tonnes hoisting capacity.The world-record span of Krk Bridge were preceded by ibenik (1966) and Pag (1968) bridges, also in Croatia, designed also by Ilija

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Stojadinovi. Arch segments for the 246-m span of ibenik Bridge were concreted on a scaffolding platform, 27 m long. The arch cantilevers were supported by stays anchored into strong abutments. After a segment was completed the scaffolding was moved forward by a floating crane. The Pag Bridge of 193-m span was constructed much in the same way, but without auxiliary steel pylons atop arch springings, and with backstays anchored directly into the rock. Two more recently constructed Adriatic arch bridges are Maslenica Bridge (1997) of 200-m span with prestressed concrete deck, and Skradin Bridge (2005) of 204-m span with composite deck.


Chateaubriand Bridge was designed by great French engineer Jacques Mathivat. This bridge across Rance river in Brittany, France was completed in 1991. The 424-m long and 12-m wide bridge includes reinforced concrete arch span of 260 m erected by cantilever construction method using temporary cable stays. The composite deck was selected, as it is lighter than a concrete one. It consists of two 1.1-m deep steel plate girders with 20-40 cm thick concrete slab on top. In order to improve bridge aesthetics, engineers and architects made a special effort to shape arch springings, which regrettably remain submerged for a better part of the year due to high water level [13].

Figure 7: Chateaubriand Bridge (left) and Morbihan Bridge (right) Morbihan Bridge at La Roche-Bernard across Vilaine river in Brittany, France, designed by Michel Virlogeux takes heavily after Chateaubriand Bridge. The reinforced concrete arch of 201 m span supports 20.3 m wide composite steel-reinforced concrete box girder. The arch was constructed by cantilever method, and the composite deck was then launched over reinforced concrete spandrel columns. The bridge was completed in 1996. One interesting feature of the bridge is the pedestrian walkway on the arch itself [13]. Wilde Gera Bridge of 252 m span is the longest-spanning concrete arch in Germany, carrying the motorway across river of the same name. Arch of two-cell box cross-section (10.3x5.5 m) was constructed by cantilever method, using temporary stays and backstays. The 552 m long and 25.5 m wide composite deck comprises single trapezoidal steel box

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girder, and 20-44 cm thick concrete deck. The steel structure was launched over concrete spandrel piers. Second important German concrete arch bridge is Kyll Valley motorway viaduct, completed in 1999. This structure is unique as it includes a concrete arch of 223-m span and 56 m rise, which is of solid rectangular cross-section 7x3.5 m at arch springing decreasing to 7x1.5 m at arch crown. The arch consists of two ribs, each supporting two columns (of solid section) which in turn support 1.5-m deep slab-type prestressed concrete superstructures. The overall superstructure width is 30 m. The arch was constructed by free cantilevering using temporary cable-stays, but, due to very low bending resistance of arch ribs, the conventional technique had to be essentially adjusted with provisional supports erected on both river banks, as well as provisional pylons above the deck [14]. Arco de los Tilos Bridge on La Palma in the Canary Islands was completed in 2004. The arch of 255 m span, and 50 m rise is made of high strength concrete (C75), thus box arch rib measures only 6x3 m in cross-section [15]. In order to further reduce the dead load, spandrel columns are made of the same high strength concrete, while the 12-m wide deck is composite consisting of two 1-m deep steel box girders, and concrete slab up to 26 cm thick. The bridge was constructed by cantilever method, using temporary cable diagonals to form Pratt truss. With the diagonals (two at each end of the arch box section) in place and stressed, spandrel pier was concreted in climbing formwork, and finally the steel deck section was transported over completed portion of the superstructure, lifted by travelling crane and slewed 180 to its final position.

Figure 8: Construction of Arco de los Tilos (left) and Svinesund Bridge (right) Skradin Bridge (design by Zlatko avor) near ibenik in Croatia was completed in 2005, to carry the motorway across Krka river canyon. The 360-m long and 22.5-m wide composite superstructure consisting of two steel box girders, cross-girders spaced at 4 m and reinforced concrete precast deck plate on top, is supported by a reinforced concrete arch spanning 204 m with a rise of 52 m [16]. The arch was constructed by cantilever method, using temporary stays and backstays, while the deck was launched into its final position. Svinesund II Bridge was opened to traffic in 2005. The 704-m long bridge includes a slender concrete arch from which the steel box girder carriageways, one on each side of the arch, are suspended. The arch of 247 m span and 30 m rise was constructed half from Norway and half from Sweden as it carries Oslo-Gothenburg motorway across Idde fjord [17]. The arch is of box cross-section 6.27x4.2 m at the springing and 4.0x2.7 m at the crown. It was constructed by cantilever method in 5.5 m long segments, and from the 3rd segment onward suspended by temporary cable-stays from 80-m high temporary concrete

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towers, which are in turn stabilized by rock anchored backstays. Cable stays and back stays were attached to temporary towers at three levels. With the key segment in place, and concrete hardened, cable stays were dismantled, temporary towers demolished and foundations covered with natural stone. Steel box girders with an ortotrophic deck, of approximately 3 m depth and 11 m width, are suspended by six pairs of hangers spaced at 25.5 m. The suspended deck section 128 m long and weighing 1400 tonnes was shipped to the site, and lifted to its final position [18]. Tercer Milenio (Third Millennium) through arch bridge over Ebro river in Zaragoza, Spain has been designed by Juan Jos Arenas. The bridge opened to service beginning of June 2008. Reminiscent of his 1992 Barqueta Bridge in Seville, Spain, the 270 m long and 43 m wide longitudinally (with both internal and external tendons) and transversely prestressed concrete deck is suspended from a reinforced concrete arch of 216 m span and 36 m rise, that measures 6x2 m in cross-section [19]. The bridge is of high strength concrete: C75 for the arch, and C60 for the deck.

For an arch to be competitive economically over other bridge types, the right site with good soil to provide adequate foundation condition is needed. However, arch bridges may have considerable advantage because of their inherently interesting form, strong visual appeal and attractiveness. An overview of long-span concrete arch bridges in Europe reveals new trends in arch bridge design. The bridges of wider deck are nowadays required in comparison to concrete arch bridges constructed up to the 1980s. Arch bridge design today thus often employs composite or steel superstructure, and high strength concrete aimed at reducing dead load, with additional effort to design aesthetically pleasing forms and details. The issue of maximum possible limit of concrete arch span still remains. The main problem seems to be expensive temporary works and very complicated construction. It was already in 1930 that Freyssinet indicated the possibility of constructing concrete arches of 700 to 1000 m spans. With several preliminary designs [20], [21] of the past years, it remains to be seen, whether these limits will ever be reached.

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