The Rio–Antirrio Bridge (Greek: Γέφυρα Ρίου-Αντιρρίου), officially the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge after the statesman who first envisaged it, is one of the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and the longest of the fully suspended type. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece by road. The bridge accommodates both pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic.
The 2,880 m (9,449 ft) long bridge (approximately 1.8 miles) dramatically improves access to and from the Peloponnese, which could previously be reached only by ferry or via the isthmus of Corinth in the east. Its width is 28 m (92 ft) — it 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 (7,388 ft) is the world's second longest cable-stayed deck; only the deck of the Millau Viaduct in southern France is longer at 2,460 m (8,071 ft). However, as the latter is also supported by bearings at the pylons apart from cable stays, the Rio–Antirrio Bridge deck might be considered the longest cable-stayed "suspended" 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.
Its official name is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. Charilaos Trikoupis was a 19th-century prime minister of Greece; 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 Greek word gefyra (bridge) also refers to the Rio-Antirio bridge in informal everyday speech, originating from the domain name of the bridge's official internet site.
The bridge was planned in the mid-1990s and was built by a French-Greek consortium led by the French group Vinci SA, and which includes the Greek companies Hellenic Technodomiki-TEV, J&P-Avax, Athena, Proodeftiki and Pantechniki. The consortium operates the bridge under concession under its ΓΕΦΥΡΑ or ΓαλλοΕλληνικός Φορέας Υπερθαλάσσιας ζεύξης Ρίου- Αντιρίου (GEFYRA, Greek for "bridge", French-Greek Carrier of Oversea Connection of Rio–Antirrio) subsidiary. The lead architect was Berdj Mikaelian. 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 with the steel fabrication being carried out by Cleveland Bridge U.K. and supporting cables by Freyssinet. On 21 May 2004 the main construction was completed; only equipment (sidewalks, railings, etc.) and waterproofing remained to be installed.
The total cost of the bridge was about €630 million, funded by Greek state funds, the consortium and loans by the European Investment Bank. It was finished ahead of its original schedule, which had foreseen completion between September and November 2004, and within budget. Other sources talk about €839 million.