The Rio-Antirrio Bridge is one of te world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese to Antirrio on mainland Greece. For students taking a course in Lefkada and travelling from Athens, they will need to cross this bridge.
The official name of the bridge is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. Charilaos Trikoupis was a 19th-century Greek prime minister; he suggested the idea of building a bridge between Rio and Antirrio. The project was too expensive at the time, when Greece was trying to get a late start in the Industrial Revolution.
The 2,880 m long bridge (approximately 1.8 miles) very much improves access to and from the Peloponnese, which could previously be reached only by ferry. The bridge has two vehicle lanes per direction, an emergency lane and a pedestrian walkway. Its five-span four-pylon cable-stayed portion of length 2,252 m is the world’s second longest cable-stayed deck.
This bridge is widely considered to be an engineering masterpiece, owing to several solutions applied to span the difficult site. These difficulties include deep water, insecure materials for foundations, seismic activity, the probability of tsunamis, and the expansion of the Gulf of Corinth due to plate tectonics.
Due to the peculiar conditions of the straits, several unique engineering problems needed to be considered. The water depth reaches 65 m, the seabed is mostly of loose sediment, the seismic activity and possibility of tectonic movement is significant, and the Gulf of Corinth is expanding at a rate of about 30 mm a year. For these reasons, special construction techniques were applied.
The bridge was planned in the mid-1990s. Site preparation and dredging began in July 1998, and construction of the massive supporting pylons in 2000. With these complete in 2003, work began on the traffic decks and supporting cables. The bridge was finally inaugurated on August 7, 2004, a week before the opening of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Olympic torchbearers were the first to officially cross its length. One of them was Otto Rehhagel, the German football coach who won the Euro 2004 Championships for Greece!
Just for your info: if you would like to enjoy the bridge even more, you can also take the ferry from Rio to Antirrio, which gives you the opportunity to sail for 40 minutes along the bridge , relax, have your coffee and take beautiful pictures! That is what the Omilo staff often likes to do! 😎