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Greece abandons dramatic Metsovitikos suspension bridge

GREECE HAS dropped consultant Arup's spectacular US$48M Metsovitikos inclined plane suspension bridge in favour of a cheaper option, it has emerged.

State owned client company Egnatia Odos dropped the design last summer, although news of the decision only surfaced recently.

A consortium of local firms is now working on a cheaper alternative with the aim of starting construction later this year.

Arup had been working on detailed designs since it and architect Wilkinson Eyre won an international design competition in 1999.

Its proposal was for a 565m suspension bridge crossing a ravine in the Pindos mountains.

The bridge forms part of the Egnatia highway across northern Greece between the Turkish border and the west coast.

Arup's design was for a suspension bridge without towers - the main suspension cables were to be anchored directly into steep hillside. Main cables and hangers were inclined at 27infinity from vertical, creating a dramatic 'valley in the air' effect.

But the project has been junked in favour of a conventional reinforced concrete, balanced cantilever structure.

Finite element analysis of Arup's bridge suggested that ground at the anchor points was not competent enough to cope with seismic loads, said Guy Hindley, project director for project manager Brown & Root.

A major investment of money and time would have been needed to design adequate anchorages, throwing the project off schedule and budget, Hindley said.

But NCEI understands that Arup engineers have stuck by their anchorage designs.

The replacement bridge, being designed by a consortium of Greek firms, will be a relatively low tech structure, supported on piers. It is expected to cost considerably less.

Client Egnatia Odos was unavailable for comment.

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