Friday, October 06, 2006

About the Pont des Invalides

In 1821, the engineer Claude NAVIER was entrusted with the task of conducting a survey for the location of the present day Alexandre III bridge. NAVIER's idea was to cross the Seine without support points, using a revolutionary technique for the day, leapfrogging contemporary English and American achievements. On 7 July 1824, his plan for the first Invalides bridge, a single span suspension bridge, was ratified by royal order.

Unfortunately, before even being completed, part of a suspension chain broke, followed by tilting of the pylons taking the weight of the deck. The situation was so worrying that the structure had to be demolished before ever being opened.

Granting the request of those wishing to maintain the view from the Invalides, the Administration decided to shift the bridge to the west, opposite the Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg. The engineers VERGES and BAYARD de LA VINGTRIE designed a new suspended bridge with three spans of 24m, 68 m and 25 m supported by 20 m gantries. This structure entered service in 1829, but as early as 1850, it showed such signs of fatigue that access had to be restricted.

With the universal exposition coming up in 1855, it was demolished and construction of a new stone bridge, designed by LAGALISSERIE and SAVARIN began from 1854 to 1856. It used the existing abutments and piers of the previous suspension bridge. Only the central pier was new. It was decorated by two allegorical groups, Victory on land by Victor Vilain upstream, and Victory at sea by Georges Diébolt downstream.The lateral piers are decorated with military trophies bearing the imperial coat of arms, and are the work of Astyanax and Scévola Bosio.

Despite the voussoir restoration work done in 1876, settling of some 25 to 30 cm occurred in 1878 and the ice of the winter of 1880 finished by carrying off two arches of the bridge, which were restored by the end of the year.

Now stabilised, the bridge has been little altered since then, other than widening of the pavements in 1956.


Construction date
1854-1856 Widened in 1956

Total length
152 m

Usable width
18m: 14 m roadway, two pavements of 2 m

Construction principles
Stone bridge, four arc of circle arches of 34m, 36m, 36m and 34 m span.

The piers are decorated with stone figures and trophies


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