Vasco da Gama Bridge connecting the north and south of Portugal
Location show on map
Sacavem, Lisbon, Portugal
Date of build
February 1995 - beginning of construction
March 29, 1998 - completion of construction
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe, measuring over 17 km long and connecting the northern and southern parts of Portugal.
The bridge is 17,185 metres long, of which 829 metres is the length of the main span, 11.5 km is the length of the other strand spans and 4.8 km are access viaducts and junctions.
The height of the bridge is 150 meters, its width is 31 meters, and its distance from the water surface is 45 meters.
The bridge takes its name from the most important Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who was the first European to reach India by sea from the Atlantic Ocean. The bridge was opened on March 29, 1998 and commemorates the 500th anniversary of the explorer's arrival in India (the year 1498).
This is not the first bridge to connect the north to the south of the country, there was already the April 25 Bridge, but it did not have enough traffic capacity, so an alternative Vasco da Gama Bridge was built.
The hosting of the Expo 98 world's fair forced the Lisbon authorities to build a second bridge and a way of financing was devised that would not cost Portuguese taxpayers a penny. The government entrusted the construction, maintenance and toll collection to private companies that would be able to raise the required $1 billion for the bridge. A private consortium, Lusoponte, agreed to build the bridge and thus, according to the contract, to have sole control of tolling on both Lisbon bridges for 40 years.
3,300 workers were needed to build the bridge, and it took 18 months to complete.
The bridge has 6 lanes, although the original design allowed for further expansion when more capacity was required. Expansion plans call for another reconstruction of the bridge when the daily number of cars crossing it reaches 52,000, which is expected to happen within the next few years.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge, plunges 95 meters into the bedrock of the Tagus River; its foundation piles are up to 2.2 meters in diameter. The pillars used to strengthen the bridge can withstand winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. The life span of the bridge is estimated at 120 years.
The creators of the bridge claim that the structure will be able to withstand an earthquake up to four times stronger than the one that occurred in 1755. Recall that Lisbon was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes in European history. On November 1, 1755, an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale occurred, followed by a tsunami and fires that left the city in ruins. 275,000 residents died and 85% of buildings were destroyed.