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Vasco da Gama Bridge – Lisbon – Portugal

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Portugal may be famous for many things but, one of the primary attractions of the country is the Vasco da Gama Bridge which runs above the Tagus River close to Lisbon and is the longest bridge in the European continent and the 9th longest bridge in the world. It mainly rests on cables and in addition to the main bridge is completed with the help of roads and viaducts.

The construction of the Vasco da Gama Bridge started in the year 1995 and it got opened for public in 1998 preceding the Expo 98 which was a World Fair held to commemorate the 500 years of Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a trade route between Europe and India. The total length of the Vasco da Gama Bridge is 17.2 kilometres within which the actual bridge has a stretch of 0.829 km and the remaining 11.5km and 4.8km is completed by viaducts and access roads, respectively. The purpose behind constructing the Vasco da Gama Bridge has been to connect the previously detattached motorways of Lisbon, to connect the Eastern Lisbon to the motorways, and also to reduce the traffic from the other bridges of Lisbon like the Ponte 25 de Abril.

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Constructed on the widest part of River Tagus, the design for the Vasco da Gama Bridge was made by a company named Armando Rio Engineering and they planned for a structure which could accommodate traffic in 6 lanes and could be supported with the help of cables. Though the planning of the bridge faced a strong opposition from the public of Portugal because it was not found to be relieving the people living in the southern suburbs of Lisbon and also had high toll rates but, the government went ahead with the plan. Now 11km of bridge stands on water on top of pillars which are 150 metres high.

Usually the speed limit for vehicles on the Vasco da Gama Bridge is kept 120km/h like the motorways but there are parts where it is reduced to 100km/h and also there are days when the rain, wind or fog is strong when the speed is further reduced 90km/h. The total cost of the Vasco da Gama Bridge has been $1.1billion and as it was divided in four parts so; the construction was done also done by four different companies which were together supervised by a single consortium.

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The survival plan of the Vasco da Gama Bridge is known to be for 120 years and it has been made keeping in mind the withstanding power against strong winds and powerful earthquakes. In order to prevent any environmental hazards, the viaducts on the left side of the bridge have been extended so that the marsh land does not get affected and also the lamp posts on the bridge tilt inwards so that no light falls on the water.

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