Spain Bridges 90 to 100 meters

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Puente Alcántara - The world's highest bridge for several hundred years

Completed in 2006, the Puente Rio Almonte (95 meters high) is one of two large bridges on the new A-66 Autovia Ruta de la Plata that crosses Spain’s massive Alcántara reservoir. The other crossing is a pair of steel arches over the Tajo River arm 8 miles (13 kms) to the north. Constructed using the stayed cantilever method, the twin concrete spans of the Almonte support 9 spandrel spans of 72 feet (22 mtrs). When the reservoir is completely full, the deck of the bridge is only 197 feet (60 mtrs) high.

A visit to the Almonte and Tajo arches would not be complete without a stop to see the famous Puente Alcántara. Located at the east end of the reservoir just below the dam, this classic Roman arch crossing is the most important stone bridge ever built in Spain. Completed in the year 106, the bridge measures 164 feet (50 mtrs) from the roadway to the normal water level of the Tagus River. This was enough to make it the highest bridge in the world, exceeding the Pont du Gard in France by just a few feet. For several hundred years it held the height record until Italy’s Ponte Delle Torri of Spoleto surpassed it. Alcántara is not only impressive for its height (which is a full 230 feet / 70 mtrs to the river bed) but for its size with 6 semicircular arches - the largest which spans 94 feet (29 mtrs). The word Alcántara is arabic for bridge.

High above the town of Salas, Spain, the new A63 curves along the slope of a steep mountainside on several viaducts. The largest and highest of these is the Viaducto Regueiron (95 meters high). The 4-lane bridge has heavy 8% banking from a tight turning radius and a grade of 6%. Like most of Spain’s steel girder highway viaducts, a central box beam supports two cantilevered extensions that are supported by diagonal braces that are attached to the lower part of the box girder. Maximum span is 308 feet (94 mtrs) out of a total length of 1,837 feet (560 mtrs). Total deck width is 75 feet (23 mtrs).

Located about 5 miles (8 kms) southeast of El Pinar Spain, the A44 will cross the Guadalfeo River bridge (95 meters high) on a new reservoir crossing due for completion in 2009 that is already largely underwater since the completion of the Rules or Vélez de Benaudalla Dam around 2008. An unusual double truss, the span somehow bent during erection requiring the construction of two new piers up to the underside of the damaged truss before it was replaced with a new one.

Viaducto Rio España on the A8 Autovia

The highest bridge on the new stretch of high speed rail line from Málaga to Córdoba, the Viaducto Arroyo Piedras (94 meters high) was completed around 2007. Reported to be near Álora Spain, the bridge is nearly indistinguishable from any other high speed rail viaduct with tall slender piers and short spans.

Located in Galicia - probably south of Ourense - are two large unknown Autovia mushroom bridges known as Santa Marta and Vid (90+ meters high) and completed in 1998. Any help on the location of these two viaducts is appreciated. The span length of both bridges is 122 feet (37.3 mtrs).

On mushroom bridges, the deck cantilevers out from the pier in all directions. Each of these square-like platforms is supported on an octagonal shaped pier. Between each ‘mushroom’ is a simple slab. Since the spans must always be relatively short, there is little advantage to using the mushroom bridge for most tall viaducts. This type of bridge is often used for low level, big city viaducts where the highways are often very wide but there is little room underneath for pier placement.

The first of many high bridges as you travel north on Spain’s A6, the Viaducto Tremor (90 meters high) is a multi-span concrete beam bridge. Constructed with precast segments, the north and south lanes are separate box cells, each 34 feet (10.5 mtrs) wide. Maximum span length is 147 feet (44.71 mtrs). Located near Cerezal de Tremor, the bridge is 20 miles (32 kms) south of the Sil River bridge.

Opened in 1914 and engineered by José Eugenio Ribera and constructed by Duro Felguera, the slender steel arch Puente Pino (originally 90 meters high) was once Spain’s second highest span after the New Ronda bridge. Later on a dam constructed downstream of the bridge reduced the height to somewhere around 200 feet (60 mtrs). The spindly looking structure is only one lane wide.

Closing the gap on the Pino arch bridge

Just 3 miles south of the Atlantic coastline near Venta de la Esperanza, the A8 crosses the Viaducto Rio España (90 meters high). Constructed with a traveler, the center prestressed concrete box beam support was built first and then the structure was widened with cantilevered side slabs supported with struts. The structure contains 6 mains spans of 262 feet (80 mtrs) and was completed in 2004.

The Viaducto de Ferreiras (90 meters high) is another prestressed concrete beam bridge where a central box beam 29 feet (8.7 mtrs) wide was constructed first with precast segments from a traveler and then the sides were added later on with strut supports bringing the total deck width to 87 feet (26.5 mtrs). The 4 mains spans are 246 feet (75 mtrs). The bridge was completed in 2000. The bridge is located near Foxos on a stretch of the A6 filled with high bridges.

One of the highest bridges on Spain’s A8 Autovia del Cantabrico, the Canero Viaduct (90 meters high) curves high above Spain’s north coast in the principality of Asturias. The 4-lane bridge is supported by a steel box girder with two main spans of 361 feet (110 mtrs). Like several other viaducts along the A8 motorway, the Canero viaduct was originally built as a 2-lane bridge with a design that would allow a widening from 41 feet (12.6 mtrs) to 74 feet (22.6 mtrs). To widen the deck, steel extensions were bolted onto existing lateral brackets. Diagonal braces support these brackets just below the deck. The bottom of the braces were then attached to the lower part of the box girder’s vertical web. The San Timoteo was one of several other bridges on the A8 that were widened in this manner. Although the A6 gets all the attention when it comes to high Spanish bridges, the A8 has amassed a nice collection of its own with such monsters as the Artedo, San Pedro/ Rio Esqueiro, Río España and La Regenta bridges. All are at least 295 feet (90 mtrs) high.

The first of several Spanish high speed rail bridges to have a wishbone or broken arch design for the main span, the huge Viaducto Arroyo del Valle (90 meters high) is located near Urbanización Peña Real about 20 miles (32 kms) north of Madrid.

Located just 1 mile (1.6 kms) north of Adamuz, Spain, the Martindientes Viaduct (90 meters high) is one of the tallest high speed railway viaducts in Spain. Located on the Madrid to Seville route, there are at least 2 other similar if slightly lower viaducts further north. Maximum span length is 148 feet (45 mtrs). Completed in 1990, the line finally opened in 1992. The many viaducts were designed by José Antonio Llombart.

The viaducto Timoteo on the A8 Autovia

One of several tall high speed rail bridges on the new line between Santiago de Compostela and Ourense, the Viaducto de Covas (90 meters high) has 15 octagon shaped piers supporting spans of 177 feet (54 mtrs). Built on a subtle curve, the huge structure measures 3,200 feet (975 mtrs) long.

A beautiful twin span concrete arch bridge on the A67 Autovia Cantabria-Messeta, the Viaducto de Cieza (85 meters high) consists of two parallel spans of 463 feet (141 mtrs). Constructed with traveling cranes, each spandrel section was supported with temporary diagonal stays that allowed the arch and deck to be completed simultaneously until the two halves are closed at the crown. Located near Villayuso, the bridge was finished in 2005.

A straightforward haunched beam bridge, the Viaducto Cuerpo De Hombre (85 meters high) was completed in 1996 across the Rio Frio near Béjar Spain on route 630. The 3 mains spans are 377 feet (115 mtrs) long with two end spans of 197 feet (60 mtrs). The single cell box girder is 48 feet (14.5 mtrs) wide and supports 3 lanes of traffic.

Another huge viaduct on the new Santiago de Compostela and Ourense high speed rail line, the Viaducto O Eixo (85 meters high) has nearly two dozen 164 foot (50 mtrs) long spans including a central wishbone or broken arch span similar to the Rio Deza crossing on the same rail line.

Built in 1948, the Gundián railway arch bridge (84 meters high) is the highest traditional railway bridge in Spain. Crossing the Ulla River between two cliffs, the storybook setting would be perfect for any artist looking to paint a bridge scene. Now under construction just 1,000 feet (305 mtrs) from the Gundián bridge is the world’s highest high speed rail bridge at 384 feet (117 mtrs) in height. Measuring 2,067 feet (630 mtrs) from end to end, the long viaduct crosses the Ulla with a central catenary arch span of 551 feet (168 mtrs) that looks modern and yet still retains the classic lines of the older Gundián arch bridge.

Several miles south of the Atlantic coast near Luarca, the A8 crosses over the Rio Negro on the Viaducto Timoteo (80 meters high). Like the Canero viaduct further west, Timoteo was originally built as a 2-lane bridge with a design that would allow a widening from 41 feet (12.6 mtrs) to 74 feet (22.6 mtrs). To widen the deck, steel extensions were bolted onto existing lateral brackets. Diagonal braces support these brackets just below the deck. The bottom of the braces were then attached to the lower part of the box girder’s vertical web.

A popular bridge for ‘Puenting’, the Viaducto Rio Cofio (80 meters high) is located near La Estación, Spain 30 miles (48 kms) west of Madrid on highway M-505. A simple concrete and beam bridge, each of the spans is approximately 131 feet (40 mtrs) long.

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