Tours in Normandy
The Pont de Tancarville is the oldest of the maritime bridges built over the Seine

Yesterday, the department of the Seine-maritime which begins a little before Rouen and ends in Le Havre had only two bridges over the Seine : the bridge "William the Conqueror" (commissioned in 1970) which connects the right bank to the left bank inside the city of Rouen and the bridge of Tancarville (commissioned in 1959)which connects the Marais-Vernier with Tancarville in the first cove of the Seine when one leaves the bay of Seine.

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

Map of the department of Seine-Maritime whose frontier on the south side is the river Seine

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.

The department of Seine-Maritime represents more than a third of the population of the "new" 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 Conquérant 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 fluvial), 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 main cereal regions of France

This imperative of not harming maritime traffic has given rise to the term "sea bridge", which is a common shorthand for the common name "deck 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.


A bulker underway upward about to get under the bridge of Tancarville


The Bridge of Tancarville, the precursor of the maritime bridges

The bridge of Tancarville under construction in 1958.

The Tancarville Bridge was commissioned on July 2, 1959 and signed the death of the ferry Seine, war damage, linking Berville-sur-Mer, south of the Seine (Eure) to Hode (in Seine-Maritime).

When commissioned, the Tancarville Bridge, with a central span of 608 meters, was the longest in Europe. Today, it remains a national record. The set weighs 7,500 tons.

The bridge of Tancarville shot from the right bank of the Seine river near the locks of Tancarville 

 Its two pylons have a height of 123 meters and support about 6,000 tons of work. The left bank (south) pylon has a depth of 28 meters because of the marshy nature of the soil (near the marsh-vernier). That of the right bank has "only" a depth of 18 meters .

The maritime bridge of Tancarville underwent a makeover in 1996 during which the traffic is maintained, a first in the history of the maintenance of such infrastructures.

The Tancarville Bridge is a suspended cable-stayed bridge whose model has been tested in the wind tunnel to test its resistance to ocean storms since we see the sea, beyond Le Havre, from its central span. The cables are connected at the ends to anchor blocks, the largest of which is similar in size to the Arc de Triomphe (Place de l'Etoile in Paris) and weighs 36,000 tons.

The Bridge of Brotonne, the much-awaited economic connection to the south

 The Brotonne Bridge east of Caudebec-en-Caux signed the end of two ferries in the Seine, those of Caudebec-en-Caux and Mailleraye. At this time, the only highway leaving Paris to the west is the A13. Given the shape of the department of Seine-Maritime, the Pays de Caux, which constitutes the bulk of the territory, has no direct access to a vital communication channel for its development. Its construction therefore responds primarily to this need for opening up.

The bridge of Brotonne shot from the south east The Brotonne bridge is a cable-stayed bridge (fan structure) whose central span (prestressed concrete) is 320 meters long, world record in 1977. The thickness of this span is 3.5 meters. Its pylons are two meters longer than those of the Tancarville Bridge, 125 meters each. The air draft of the bridge (space between the level of the Seine and the central span) is 50 meters, bridge at format "maritime".

The bridge of Brotonne shot for right river of the Seine


The Bridge of Brotonne from the left river of the Seine.

The bridge of Brotonne establishes a reliable link to the south for the Pays de Caux



 The Normandy Bridge, a know-how to the test of the elements


The bridge of Normandy next to the bay of Seine

It was commissioned in 1995. It connects Le Havre to Honfleur directly, without passing through the Tancarville Bridge, located 25 km from the city center of Le Havre.

 The Normandy Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world for 4 years at commissioning

 Below, the "lace" of the Normandy Bridge from the south west.

Below, the "lace" of the Normandy Bridge from the south west. A key element of its solidity.


The records recorded at the Pont de Normandie since its construction: for memory its "specifications" led him to have to pass the exam gusts to 180 km / h. He has suffered a lot more since then and it is still here !


January 03, 2018 : Eleanor storm, wind of 129 km / h

December 10, 2017 : winds of 141 km / h are recorded in Seine Bay

September 24, 2012 : gusts of 100 km / h

December 26, 1999 : 212 km / h recorded on the bridge

1995 : commissioning of the bridge.


Gusts of wind, which produce tremendous torsional stress on the elements, especially on the bridges, remain low in the lowlands compared to records recorded in the mountains.

In France, the records are as follows:

- in plain: 252 km / h in Belfort in 1955,

- in the mountains: 360 km / h at Mont Aigoual in 1968.


But in the United States of America for example, in tornadoes it has already been recorded 509 km / h in Oklahoma in 1999 and out tornado, 373 km / h at Mount Washington.


The Bridge of Normandy is full of sensors since its birth. To learn more, read this (in french only).




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