Faidherbe Bridge

Faidherbe Bridge

Infobox Bridge type
type_name = Faidherbe Bridge

image_title = General view of Faidherbe Bridge
ancestor_names = Faidherbe Bridge (Pontoon 1865-1897)
sibling_names =
descendant_names =
carries = Vehicles, Foot traffic
span_range = 507.35 m
material = Metal
movable = yes
design = "Nouguier, Kessler et Cie"
falsework = No

Faidherbe Bridge [fr icon [http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/inventai/extranet/revue/insitu3/d7/text/d7.pdf Saint–Louis du Sénégal, un enjeu pour le patrimoine mondial] ] is a road bridge over the Sénégal River which links the island of the city of Saint-Louis in Senegal to the African mainland.

The city of Saint-Louis, [fr icon [http://www.elysee.fr/elysee/elysee.fr/francais/actualites/deplacements_a_l_etranger/2005/fevrier/fiches/senegal/l_ile_saint-louis-le_pont_faidherbe.27707.html Le pont Faidherbe (Ile Saint-Louis)] ] the first capital of the French West Africa is situated on an island near the estuary of the Sénégal River. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a thin 40 km [fr icon Boubou Aldiouma, [http://www.recherches-africaines.net/document.php?id=344 L’ouverture de la brèche de la Langue de Barbarie et ses conséquences - approche géomorphologique] in "Recherches Africaines" (secţiunea 1.1)] strip of sand called the Langue de Barbarie, which starts from Nouadhibou in Mauritania and extends all the way to Saint-Louis. The suburbs of "Guet Ndar" and "Ndar-Tout" are situated in this area.

All the way to the 19th century, access to the island was made through boats. The troups, horses and all the equipment of the French colonial army were moved with some very light boats which could break at any moment.

In 1858, Louis Faidherbe, the governor of Senegal, [en icon [http://www.salysenegal.net/activites/excursions/excursionssaintlouisouis.htm www.salysenegal.net] ] inaugurated the "Bouteville" boat that was capable of transporting 150 passengers, animals and all kinds of goods. The boat made 10 crosses every day and the costs differed: five centimes for a person, 50 centimes for a horse, cow or camel, and two francs for a carrage.

In less than a year it was obvious that this system was overrun and a second boat was introduced but with no succes.

Seeing this, a frigate captain "Robin", friend of Louis Faidherbe, asked the print Jerome Napoléon, "Minister of Algeria and the African Colonies", the approval for the construction of a floating bridge. Opened on July 2 1865, the bridge had a total length of 680 m (the floatring part of the bridge had a length of 350 m) and a width of four metres. The floating part was formed from 40 metal pontoons which supported a wooden deck. Three of these pontoons were specially designed so that it could be created a 20m gap so that large vessels could pass. The bridge was named Faidherbe Bridge by a decree of Napoleon III of France.

The opening in 1885 of the Saint-Louis - Dakar railway increased the traffic over the bridge. The railway reached all the way to "Soc" and all the goods hauled between the coast and the railway station had to cross over the bridge. To prevent the breakdown of the bridge a special decree was given so that the maximum weight for a vehicle that crosses the bridge to be less than one and a half tonnes.

With all its difficulties the bridge remained in service 32 years, until 1897 when it was dismantled.

Construction of a new bridge

In the opening of his speech in the "General Council of Senegal", governor Henri de Lamothe proposed that the country should take a loan for infrastructure development. The council agreed on a loan worth five million gold francs, much of the money being for the construction of a metallic bridge between Saint-Louis and "Soc". The loan was approved on November 21 1892 by the French president Marie François Sadi Carnot. A French bank CDG, agreed to give the loan with a low interest of only four percent.

The auction was organised by the "Ministry of Colonies" which sent to Senegal five offers for evaluation.

After examining each one these offers the "Faidherbe Bridge Committee" selected two of them:
* the Nouguier, Kessler et Cie offer;
* the Société de Construction de Levallois-Perret (owned by Gustave Eiffel).

The "Faidherbe Bridge Committee" and the technical committee in Paris agreed that the "Société de Construction de Levallois-Perret" project was the best for the site. On the other hand the president of the public works in Senegal and councilman Jean-Jacques Crespin supported the "Nouguier, Kessler et Cie" project. In the end the contract was awarded to "Nouguier, Kessler et Cie" at a price of 1.88 million gold francs.

Links between Faidherbe Bridge and King Carol I Bridge

There are many miths regarding the construction of the Faidherbe Bridge which are present even today and are depicted in some tourist guides. The construction of the bridge is attributed to Gustave Eiffel. In general it says that the metallic parts of the bridge represents a gift from the French Government and that the parts were originally designed for the King Carol I Bridge over the Danube River in Romania. Other sources say that the metallic parts were intended for a bridge in Austria-Hungary over the Danube River in Vienna or Budapest. Finally another myth regarding the beams of the bridge says that the parts were intended for an unspecified site but the vessel transporting mysteriously sunk and the authorities in Senegal took advantage of this situation and built a local bridge.

The information available in Romania for the King Carol I Bridge in Cernavoda as well as the results of scientists in France say that the myths are pure fiction.

First of all the Romanian Government never finalised the construction contract with the company of Gustave Eiffel of with another foreign company, taking the decision to build the bridge only with local companies. The Cernavoda bridge was made entirely by Romanians, fulfilling the design of Anghel Saligny, which was also the supervisor of the site. In these conditions, not knowing if the contract will be approved, it is unlikely that a foreign company would build the whole superstructure of the bridge. On the other hand, in Austria-Hungary there was no need to construct a low bridge like the Faidherbe because of the trade routes.

Construction of the metallic bridge

The new bridge has a metal deck formed with riveted girders. The bridge has in total eight spans of which one span of 42.95 m, two spans of 36.55 m and five spans of 78.26 m. The total length of the bridge is 507.35 m and the width is 10.5 m. The total weight of the deck is 1,500 tonnes. The second span from the city is mobile being capable of turning 45 degrees to let small ships to cross.

Opening of the bridge

A first opening of the bridge took place in the same day with the ceremonies for the national day of Senegal in July 14 1897 in the presence of governor Chabié. The ribbon for the access zone was cut by the governor's wife, then the officials walked a short distance to the mobile deck, which was opened to allow the passage of the military ship "L'Ardent". 21 cannon shots were fired at dusk and dawn to commemorate the construction of the bridge and in that day there were organised ceremonies including horse races an donkey races.

The second opening was on October 19 1897 in the presence of André Lebon, the prime minister of the colonies.

Modernisation and rehabilitation works

After more than 100 years since it was opened the bridge is starting to suffer from corrosion and it is in need of urgent repair.

The rehabilitaion works [fr icon [http://www.afd.fr/jahia/Jahia/home/activite/Transport/op/edit/pid/934 Sénégal : Projet de réhabilitation lourde du pont Faidherbe à Saint-Louis] ] are co financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and by the Government of Senegal. The total cost of the works was estimated to be US$ 27 million, of which US$ 17 million is from AFD and US$ 10 million is from the government


External links

* [http://www.afddakar.sn/jahia/Jahia/lang/en/home/activite/Eau/pid/996 Bridge on AFD Website]
* [http://www.saintlouisdusenegal.com/english/index.php Bridge on saintlouisdusenegal.com]


*Bernard Toulier (November 2001). "Le réveil d’une capitale déchue". Patrimoine mondial, Saint–Louis du Sénégal, pp. 24–35.
* "Le pont Faidherbe", Dakar, GIA, 1967, 16 p.
* Abdoul Hadir Aïdara, «Au coeur de la ville. Le pont Faidherbe», dans "Saint-Louis du Sénégal d'hier à aujourd'hui", Grandvaux, 2004, pp. 59-65, ISBN 2-909550-43-5
* Guy Thilmans, "Le pont Faidherbe", Editions du CRDS, 2006

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