Pont des Invalides

Paris, France

Pont des Invalides

The Pont des Invalides is the lowest bridge traversing the Seine in Paris.

The story of this bridge started in 1821, when engineer Claude Navier conceived a technologically revolutionary bridge that crossed the Seine in one single reach without any point of support in between. The proposed suspension bridge, the construction of which started in 1824, was meant to be erected opposite to the Hotel des Invalides on the site of the current Pont Alexandre III. Navier failed to leave a safety margin on top of his calculations, and the contract to build the bridge was unusually rigid. After Navier's plan had been approved by the private investment company, the contractor could not make changes without approval, and there was no authorization to suggest improvements. The bridge became unsafe after cracking of the anchorages due to natural settling and additional movement after a water main break near the buttresses. The bridge had to be dismantled, and Navier was chastised by a government committee for relying too much on mathematics. He was even compared unfavorably to the accomplishments of (French rival) British bridge builders. After a settlement between the contractor and investors was reached, the raw materials were reused for other bridges, with designs to be provided by the head investor Alain Desjardins, which were widely seen as less elegant.

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