Maria Pia Bridge

Last updated
Maria Pia Bridge

Ponte D. Maria Pia
Ponte Maria Pia - Porto.JPG
Maria Pia Bridge, Porto, Portugal
Coordinates Coordinates: 41°08′23″N8°35′50″W / 41.13972°N 8.59722°W / 41.13972; -8.59722
CarriesNo longer in use
Crosses River Douro
Locale Porto/Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Heritage statusNational Monument
Monumento Nacional
Decree 28/82, Diário da República, Série 1, 47, 26 February 1982
Characteristics
MaterialWrought iron
Total length353 metres (1,158 ft)
Height60 metres (200 ft)
Longest span160m (525 ft)
History
Engineering design by Gustave Eiffel
Théophile Seyrig
Manuel Afonso Espergueira
Pedro Inácio Lopes
Constructed byEiffel & Cª. de Paris
Construction start5 January 1876
Construction end1 October 1877
Inaugurated4 November 1877
Closed1991
Location
Maria Pia Bridge

The Maria Pia Bridge (in Portuguese Ponte de D. Maria Pia, commonly known as Ponte de Dona Maria Pia) is a railway bridge built in 1877, and attributed to Gustave Eiffel, situated over the Portuguese northern municipalities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

Contents

Part of the Linha Norte system of the national railway, the wrought iron, double-hinged, crescent arch spans 353 m (1,158 ft), 60 m (200 ft) over the Douro River. At the time of its construction, it was the longest single-arch span in the world; today, it is no longer used for rail transport and was replaced by a modern structure in 1991. It is often confused with the D. Luís Bridge, which was built nine years later and is located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) to the west, but resembles the structure, albeit with two decks.

History

The Maria Pia Bridge during construction: the two halves of the arch have been connected, but their weight is still supported by cables. Obras da Ponte D. Maria Pia - Os Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses 1856-2006.jpg
The Maria Pia Bridge during construction: the two halves of the arch have been connected, but their weight is still supported by cables.
A view of the Mia Pia Bridge in 1877 Ponte d maria pia.jpg
A view of the Mia Pia Bridge in 1877

In 1875, the Royal Portuguese Railway Company announced a competition for a bridge to carry the Lisbon to Porto railway across the river Douro. [1] This was very technically demanding: the river was fast-flowing, its depth could be as much as 20 m (66 ft) during times of flooding and the riverbed was made up of a deep layer of gravel. These factors ruled out the construction of piers in the river, so that the bridge would have to have a central span of 160m (525 ft) [2] At the time the longest bridge span was the 158.5m (520 ft) of the bridge built by James B. Eads over the Mississippi at St Louis. When the project was approved, João Crisóstomo de Abreu e Sousa, member of the Junta Consultiva das Obras Públicas (Consultative Junta for Public Works) considered that the deck should have two lanes. [3]

Gustave Eiffel's design proposal, priced at 965,000 French francs, was the least expensive of the four designs considered, around two thirds of the cost of the nearest competitor. [2] Since the company was relatively inexperienced, a commission was appointed to report on their suitability to undertake the work. Their report was favorable, although it did emphasise the difficulty of the project:

"The complete study of a structure of this size presents great difficulties. The methods of calculation known up until now can only be applied in practise with the aid of hypotheses which depart from established fact to a greater or lesser extent, and thus render the projected results uncertain."

Responsibility for the actual design is difficult to attribute, but it is probable that a large part was played by Théophile Seyrig, Eiffel's business partner, who presented a paper on the bridge to the Société des Ingénieurs Civils in 1878. Eiffel, in his account of the bridge, which accompanied the 1:50 scale model exhibited at the 1878 World's Fair, credited Seyrig, along with Henry de Dion, with work on the calculations and drawings.

Construction started on 5 January 1876, and work on the abutments, piers and approach decking was complete by September. Work then paused due to winter flooding, and the erection of the central arch span was not re-started until March 1877. [2] Construction was completed on 1 October 1877. By 28 October 1877, the platform was mounted and concluded, with the work on the 1,500 tonnes (3,300,000 lb) bridge executed using a complement of 150 workers finishing on 30 October 1878. [3] Tests were performed between 1 and 2 November, leading to the 4 November inauguration by King D. Louis I and Queen Maria Pia of Savoy (the eponym of the bridge). [1] [3]

Another view between 1900 and 1910, showing the anchorages in cliffside of Seminario Ponte Maria Pia e Seminario Maior do Porto crop.jpg
Another view between 1900 and 1910, showing the anchorages in cliffside of Seminário
The boats along the river in the show of the Maria Pia Porto, Domingos Alvao 90 (9292229432).jpg
The boats along the river in the show of the Maria Pia

Between 1897 and 1898 there was some concern by technicians about the integrity of the bridge; its 3.1 metres (10 ft) width, the interruption of principal beams, its lightweight structure resulted in an elastic nature. [3] In 1890, in Ovar, the Oficina de Obras Metálicas (Metal Works Office) existed to support the work to reinforce and repair those structures. [3] As a consequence, restrictions were placed on transit over the structure between 1900 and 1906: weight limited to 14 tons per lane and velocity to 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) per hour. [3] Alterations to the deck of the bridge were performed under the initiatives of Xavier Cordeiro in 1900. These were followed between 1901 and 1906 by improvements to the triangular beams were performed by the Oficina of Ovar. [3] Consulting with a specialist in metallic structures (the French engineer Manet Rabut) in 1907, the Oficina concluded that the arch and the works performed on the bridge were sufficient to allow circulation. [3] But, this did not impede further work on the fore- and aft-structural members to make the bridge more accessible and to reinforce the main pillars. [3]

In 1916, a commission was created to study the possibility of a secondary transit between Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto. [3]

By 1928, the bridge was already an obstacle to transit. [3]

In 1948, engineer João de Lemos executed several studies to evaluate the bridge's condition: study of the deck (including structural members); analysis of the continuous beams and the arch's structural supports. [3] The analysis of the stability of the bridge was handled by the Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil (LNEC), that resulted in the injection of cement and repair of the masonry joints and pillars, that connected with metallic structures. At the same time, flaking paint was removed from the structure and issues with corrosion were treated during the work, that included repainting with new metallic paint. [3] These projects resulted from the need to improve the structure for the beginning of CP service across the bridge with improved Series 070 locomotives on 1 November 1950. [3] Following a decade of service, an analytic study in 1966 began to analyze upgrading service to electrical locomotives (Bò-Bó), leading to the end of the electrification of the Linha Norte. Verification, in loco, determined stressed tests for the structure in 1969. [3]

In 1998, there was a plan to rehabilitate and illuminate the bridge, resulting in the establishment of a tourist train attraction between the Museu dos Transportes and the area that included the wine cellars of Porto, a route that included 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi), using a tunnel formerly closed under the historic centre of Porto. [3]

In 1990, the bridge was classified by the American Society of Civil Engineers as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. But in 1991, rail service over the bridge ended because there was only one track and speed restrictions, limiting transit to 20 kilometres (12 mi) per hour, or cargo. [3] The rail functions were transited in 1991 over the São João Bridge (designed by engineer Edgar Cardoso).

Architecture

The bridge is in an urban cityscape, over the Douro River, connecting the mount of Seminário, in the municipality of Porto, to the Serra do Pilar, in the lightly populated section of the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia. [3]

The structure consists of a deck 354.375 m (1,162.65 ft) long, supported by two piers on one side of the river and three on the other, with a central arch with a span of 160 m (520 ft) and a rise of 42.6 m (140 ft). [1] [3] It is supported on three pillars in Vila Nova da Gaia and by two pillars in Porto. Two shorter pillars support the arch. [3] The five, interlaced support pillars are constructed of a pyramidal format over granite masonry blocks, over six veins, three of which are 37.390 metres (122.67 ft) on the Gaia side and 37.400 metres (122.70 ft) on the Porto side. [3]

Maria Pia Bridge detail.jpg

Another innovation was the method of construction used for the central arch. Since it was impossible to use any falsework, the arch was built out from the abutments on either side, their weight being supported by steel cables attached to the top of the piers supporting the deck. The same method was also used to build the decking, temporary tower structures being built above deck level to support the cables. This technique had been previously used by Eads, but its use by Eiffel is a good example of his readiness to use the latest engineering techniques.

The design uses a parabolic arch. [4]

Over the bridge are painted ironwork guardrails over granite masonry. [3]

Related Research Articles

Porto Municipality in Norte, Portugal

Porto or Oporto is the second-largest city in Portugal and one of the Iberian Peninsula's major urban areas. Porto city is small compared to its metropolitan area, with a population of 237,559 people. Porto's metropolitan area has an estimated 1.7 million people (2019) in an area of 2,395 km2 (925 sq mi), making it the second-largest urban area in Portugal. It is recognized as a global city with a Gamma + rating from the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality in Norte, Portugal

Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia, is a city and a municipality in Porto District in Norte Region, Portugal. It is located south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper had a population of 178,255 in 2001. The municipality has an area of 168.46 km². and a total population of 302,295 inhabitants (2011), making it the most populous municipality in Norte Region. Gaia along with Porto and 12 other municipalities make up the commonly designated Porto Metropolitan Area.

Arrábida Bridge

The Arrábida Bridge is an arch bridge of reinforced concrete which carries six lanes of traffic over the Douro River, between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, in the Norte region of Portugal.

Dom Luís I Bridge

The Dom Luís I Bridge, or Luís I Bridge, is a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. At its construction, its 172 metres (564 ft) span was the longest of its type in the world. It has been confused with the nearby Maria Pia Bridge, a railway bridge that was built 9 years earlier, which is similar in aspect to the Luís I bridge.

Avintes Civil parish in Norte, Portugal

Avintes is a Portuguese civil parish in the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia. The population in 2011 was 11,497, in an area of 8.82 km².

Arcozelo (Vila Nova de Gaia) Civil parish in Norte, Portugal

Arcozelo is a freguesia in the municipality (concelho) of Vila Nova de Gaia. The population in 2011 was 14,352, in an area of 8.50 km².

History of Porto

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal behind the capital, Lisbon.

Freixo Bridge

The Freixo Bridge which was inaugurated in 1995 is a Portuguese bridge over the Douro river, connecting Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto. The purpose of its construction was to create an alternative to Arrábida and D. Luis I bridges. The designers of the bridge are António Reis and Daniel de Sousa. The bridge with total length of 705 m has 8 spans.

Tua railway station railway station in Portugal

The Tua Railway Station (Portuguese: Estação Ferroviária do Tua is northern Portuguese railway station located in the civil parish of Castanheiro do Norte e Ribalonga, in the municipality of Carrazeda de Ansiães, close to the confluence of the Douro and the Tua. Although the station is still served by Comboios de Portugal main line trains on the Douro line to/from Porto.

Ponte de Prozelo

The Bridge of Prozelo is a bridge in the civil parish of Ferreiros, Prozelo e Besteiros, municipality of Amares, in the Portuguese district of Braga, that crosses the Cávado River.

Ponte do Prado

The Bridge of Prado is a bridge constructed over the Cávado River, in the civil parish of Vila de Prado, municipality of Vila Verde, in Norte Region, Portugal northern Portugal. Although originally a Roman bridge, it was re-constructed during the 16th century when the original had been destroyed following flooding and consistent use. There are few vestiges of the Roman bridge.

Ponte da Cava da Velha Bridge in Portugal

The Bridge of Cava da Velha is a Roman bridge, situated in the civil parish of Castro Laboreiro e Lamas de Mouro, in the municipality of Melgaço in northern Portuguese district of Viana do Castelo.

The Old Bridge of Santo Adrião is a two-arch bridge over the Rio Tedo in the civil parish of Vila Seca e Santo Adrião, municipality of Armamar, the Portuguese district of Viseu.

Campanhã railway station

The Campanhã Railway Station is a 19th-century railway station in the civil parish of Campanhã, in the municipality of Porto, district of Porto. Opened in 1877, it is connected to the Porto Metro, with local intercity and commuter service. The railway station provides Lisbon to north access, a through-station, and not a terminus station, serving the Lisbon-to-north allowing through running of trains from Lisbon to the north of Portugal.

Ponte da Ajuda

The Bridge of Ajuda is a bridge that crosses the Guadiana River between Elvas and Olivenza.

The D. António Francisco dos Santos Bridge is a proposed bridge that will span the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. Following a meeting between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia councils, it was agreed in 2018 to build a seventh bridge over the Douro river and name it after the former bishop of Porto António Francisco dos Santos.

Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the leading tourism destinations in northern Portugal, located directly opposite Porto, on the South bank of Douro river. These two cities interconnect with each other through several bridges over Douro river. Vila Nova de Gaia is home to several notable attractions, such as the Port wine cellars, Dom Luís I Bridge, the Teleferico, Monastery of Serra do Pilar, Douro Estuary and 18 km long beaches.

Infante Dom Henrique Bridge

The Infante Dom Henrique Bridge, commonly known as Infante Bridge, is a road bridge across the Douro River in Greater Porto, Portugal. The bridge is upriver from the Dom Luís I Bridge and downriver from the Maria Pia Bridge.

References

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Martin, A. (2016), IGESPAR (ed.), Ponte de D. Maria Pia (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: IGESPAR-Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico, retrieved 17 June 2017
  2. 1 2 3 Loyrette (1985), p.60
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Sereno, Isabel (1994), Ponte D. Maria Pia/Ponte Ferroviária D. Maria Pia (IPA.00003903/PT011312020052) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 16 June 2017
  4. "Ponte Maria Pia Bridge". Invention and Technologu.

Sources