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What is a "maritime" bridge ?



The Tancarville Bridge connects the top of the Tancarville cliff on the right bank to the Marais-Vernier on the left bank

Photo : ©


The Seine-Maritime (76) is a department bordering the English Channel stretching from Cape of la Heve over the Seine to Le Treport (Bresle Valley) on the Alabaster Coast. It ends after Rouen towards Paris, at Gournay-en-Bray. Before 1955, Seine-Maritime  was called Seine-Inferieure.


The Seine river marks the south of the Seine-Maritime department with an almost natural border  !


Seine-Maritime department, heavyweight of the Normandy Region 

Today Seine-Maritime is home to more than a third of the population of the new Normandy Region, or more than one million two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants in 2013.


Distribution of the population by commune / agglomeration of communes within the Normandy Region



This position lying above the Seine naturally cuts the department of Seine-Maritime from any land relationship with neighboring territories south of the Seine. This department had only two bridges over the Seine : the "Guillaume le Conquerant" bridge (1970) which connects the right bank to the left bank inside the city of Rouen and the Tancarville Bridge (1959) which connects the Marais-Vernier with Tancarville in the first cove of the Seine when one leaves the bay of Seine. In fact, the "plateau Cauchois" which constitutes half of the area of the department of Seine-Maritime was without a reliable and constant communication route to the south. The ferries do not run at night and have a limited load, even if they were present every 30/40 kilometers in the past.



French agriculture, a European flagship to protect

It was therefore vital for the region's economic boom to break this isolation. But not to interfere at the same time with the maritime traffic of the port of Rouen, first exporter of French cereals but especially European. Indeed, the port of Rouen is fed, via the three terrestrial modes (rail, road and river), by the main French cereal regions at the crossroads of which it is located and which alone represent half of the national production.


Map of the various French cereal regions and their respective weight in the total produced annually



This imperative of not harming maritime traffic has given rise to the term "sea bridge", which is a common shorthand for the common name "bridge in maritime format / standard" throughout the world. Standards evolving naturally, it was vital for each bridge construction to permanently push back the known limits so as not to be "handicapped" in the future. In fact, all the bridges built over the Seine entered during their construction in the book of records. The three bridges have a 50-foot air gap * in the middle. But the records being made to be beaten, they remained there more or less as the time goes by ... So we will return successively on the construction of Bridges Tancarville (1959), Brotonne (1977) and Normandy (1995).


Bridge of Tancarville : 3,5 years (42 months) -  Bridge of Brotonne : 3 years (41 months)  -  Bridge of Normandy :  7 years (82 months)


Air draught : free space between the river / sea level at high tide and the underside of the central span of the bridge.