domingo, 26 de dezembro de 2004

Pontes privadas

"With its tallest tower soaring more than 1,000 feet above the deepest part of the Tarn Valley of southern France, the world's highest bridge is an airy confection of light-colored steel and concrete, a source of French pride and more than a little Bay Area envy.

(...) Eiffage, the Millau bridge construction company -- which built the bridge entirely with private-sector funds -- plans on recouping its costs over the next 75 years through hefty tolls. Cars crossing the bridge will have to pay fees ranging from $6.10 in the off-season to $8.60 during the peak months of July and August. Truck tolls are even higher. "

Eiffage officials argue that the steep fees are offset by fewer driving hours for drivers zipping down a now-streamlined highway linking Paris and the Mediterranean. And they suggest that the project's private-sector backing, along with cutting-edge building technology and materials, helped shorten the construction timetable and cut costs.

"I can't say that we go faster in the private sector," said Eiffage spokeswoman Sandra Wiegand, "but the fact that we had to pay for the project was a stimulator" to finishing it on time.
In a country known for its cumbersome bureaucracy and paralyzing strikes, the Millau bridge is testament to a more visionary France."

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