A symbol of Greece of the 21 century and also a trademark at the celebration of fifty years of European Unification, the "Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge" confirms that no work can symbolize European Architecture better than a bridge.

Written by Irene Sotiriou *

Captivatingly beautiful and provocative, the Bridge is a modern miracle with its imposing presence, which took place at the turn of the millennium, giving our country a "perfume" of modern technology. "Hanging" between the sky and the sea, according to the take-off feeling it creates, enchants the visitor, inspiring feelings of admiration and awe. The "Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge" has a personality, galatian grace, high aesthetics and is environmentally friendly. The sense of certainty, which is exuded by the special technology, was used for its construction.

"It was an Odyssey that lasted for eighteen years," said Jean-Paul Teyssandier, French President and CEO of GEFYRA SA, speaking at the opening ceremony of Rio-Antirrio, and remembered that 1986 began to seriously discuss the project. "Seven millions of hours of work were needed to build it and even without accidents at work," said Aktor AE CEO, Mr. Dimitris Kallitsantsis, despite many submarine and aerial work.

The work of the Rio-Antirio Bridge was the vision of the Mesolongi politician, Charilaos Trikoupis, who was repeatedly the prime minister of the last twenty years of 19 century. Inspired by a related publication by Emil Birnuff, who was director of the French Archaeological School of Athens, he referred to the necessity of bridging the Strait during a speech in Parliament at the beginning of 1889. However, it took over a hundred years to make the project technically feasible and to begin its construction. Thus, at 19 July 1998, the former Prime Minister, Mr. Kostas Simitis, in the presence of the former President of the Republic, Mr. Constantinos Stephanopoulos, laid the foundation stone of the project. The inauguration of the Rio-Antirion Bridge took place on the eve of the opening of the Olympic Games by the then Minister of Environment, Planning and Public Works, Mr. Giorgos Souflias, who during his speech noted: "The Greek people are given a project, which upgrades the whole area and brings the Greeks closer. It marks the progress and success of the entire Greek people, all of our homeland. "

The importance of creating the Bridge lies at the strategic point, which is the jewel of the Rio-Antirion coupling. The Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki-Evzonon motorway, which connects the three major cities of the country and is part of the corresponding European network, meets the western axis of Kalamata - Patra - Igoumenitsa (Ionian Road). The bridge will facilitate the country's communication with Italy and, by extension, with Western Europe via the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa. The role of the Bridge will be important for the development of links between Patras, the third largest city in the country and the main rural areas of Western Greece.

Moreover, this work is unique in its conception and execution, due to the unique natural environment that surrounds it. Depth of sea up to 65 meters, bottom of reduced strength, seeking reinforcement, intense seismic activity and possible tectonic movements. As a consequence, the diameter of the pedestals reaches 90 μ and are the largest, so far constructed for a bridge. In fact, due to the high seismicity of the area and strong winds, the coupling was designed to resist very large earthquakes, such as the 7,4 of the Richter scale at 17 / 08 / 1999 in Turkey's Ismit and wind speeds up to 256km / h. In addition, because the pylons are at sea, they were designed to withstand a collision of a ship weighing 180.000 tones at speeds up to 16 nodes. Thus, a possible displacement of up to two meters between the two pedestals in any direction, horizontally and / or vertically, will not create substantial problems for the Bridge, which at the same time ensures firmness and elasticity.

The Tatara Bridge in Japan and the Normandy Bridge in France rank first and second in the world (890m and 856 μ respectively), while the top ten include the Rio-Antirion Bridge "With a basic opening 560m. The latter, however, thanks to the four pillars, instead of the two common practice, is ranked first in the world on the basis of the largest overall cable deck (2.252m). Indeed, the "Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge" is larger than the Golden Gate, the famous Golden Gate hanging bridge in San Francisco, with a total length of deck 1.966m.

The "Harilaos Trikoupis Bridge" is epigraphically composed of: four pillars, five openings, including three central 560m and two 305m extremities, 40m sea level, 159m sea level pillars and 105.000 ton pillar weight. Meanwhile, the total cost of the project amounted to 800 million. The operation of the Bridge by the contractor GEFYRA SA (French-Hellenic Organization of the Rialto-Antirion Rail link) will take place until 24 December 2039, after which the project will be delivered to the Greek State for its exploitation.

Moreover, at the performance ceremony of the name Charilaos Trikoupis at the Rio-Antirion Bridge, there was the revelation by the former President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias pyramid, bearing the portrait of the great Mesolongi politician and the plaques of the international awards of the Bridge international organizations such as the International Union of Concrete, the International Union of Bridge Construction and Construction, and three American. Indeed, one is from the renowned American Civil Engineering Association, which, thanks to the Bridge, has for the first time awarded its grand prize to a project that is not in North America. It also carries the two thousand names of those who worked for the Bridge, engineers, employees and workers, Greeks and foreigners.

Moreover, "big projects are products of national effort," stressed Mr. Kostis Stephanopoulos at the foundation ceremony of the project. "The Rio-Antirion Bridge should not be just a mixture of concrete and steel," said the Archbishop Christodoulos during his tour in Western Greece from the Information Center at the site of Antirrio (02 / 04 / 1999) and had "Greek culture, like the Orthodox faith, teaches us to build bridges to preserve unity among people. This is a message of life, development, prosperity and real progress. " The first "passerby" on the Bridge was Apollonios Light and his companion, the first torchbearer on the road, was the man-soul of the technological achievement, French philhellene, engineer, president and chief executive of the consortium of the same name, Jean Paul Teyssandier, who likened the The Olympic Flame and the Bridge as the daughters of Prometheus, who gave people the fire and the hope for life.

The Rio-Antirion Bridge - a symbol of unity and brotherhood - is dedicated to man, who professes that there is no gap, that is not bridged. It depicts a miniature of Aitoloakarnania, which we seek as a modern metropolitan center with a human face, which will prescribe a track of progress. It also bears the name of a politician, Charilaos Trikoupis, who was a visionary, a leader with an indelible stamp on political affairs, a monumental chapter about the country. His political behavior is a compass for political action and his work, with the wonderful blue color reflected in the blue waters of the night, illuminates our lives and prevails over time, lead our thoughts to paths of prosperity and prosperity.

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* Δημοσιογράφος, Διοικητικό Στέλεχος, Διεθνολόγος
Graduate Diploma in International Relations & Strategic Studies,
Candidate Doctor of International Relations,
University of Peloponnese, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences,
Department of Political Science and International Relations



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