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Visitors to Millau in France can now get the first real impression of what the towering viaduct under construction over the Tarn valley will look like when completed in January 2005. One and a half spans of the $365M Foster & Partners designed structure's 2.46km long steel deck have been launched from the southern abutment, connecting it to the southern-most pier (NCEI June).

Telescopic temporary steel towers provide intermediate support for the deck, preventing it from sagging mid-span as it inches towards the next of the viaduct's seven permanent reinforced concrete piers.

Contractor Eiffage said high winds this summer had added about two weeks to the launch programme.

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