AskDefine | Define viaduct

Dictionary Definition

viaduct n : bridge consisting of a series of arches supported by piers used to carry a road (or railroad) over a valley

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈvaɪəˌdʌkt/ /"vaI@%dVkt/


  1. A bridge with several spans that carries road or rail traffic over a valley or other obstacles.

Related terms


bridge with several spans that carries road or rail traffic over a valley

Extensive Definition

A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans. The term viaduct is derived from the Latin via for road and ducere to lead something. However, the Ancient Romans did not use that term per se; it is a modern derivation from an analogy with aqueduct. Like the Roman aqueducts, many early viaducts comprised a series of arches of roughly equal length. Viaducts may span land or water or both, as in the viaduct in Faribault, Minnesota.
Many viaducts over land connect points of similar height in a landscape, usually by bridging a river valley or other eroded opening in an otherwise flat area. Often such valleys have roads descending either side (with a small bridge over the river, where necessary) that become inadequate for the traffic load, necessitating a viaduct for through traffic. Such bridges also lend themselves for use by rail traffic, which requires straighter and flatter routes.
Viaducts over water are often combined with other types of bridges or tunnels to cross navigable waters. The viaduct sections, while less expensive to design and build than tunnels or bridges with larger spans, typically lack sufficient horizontal and vertical clearance for large ships.
The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. Designed by French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, in collaboration with architect Norman Robert Foster, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one pier's summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft)—slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 38 m (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building. It was formally dedicated on 14 December2004 and opened to traffic two days later. The bridge, according to many observers, is one of the most breathtaking ever built.
In Romance languages, the word viaduct refers to a bridge which spans only land. A bridge spanning water is called ponte.



See also

viaduct in Bulgarian: Виадукт
viaduct in Czech: Viadukt
viaduct in Danish: Viadukt
viaduct in German: Viadukt
viaduct in Spanish: Viaducto
viaduct in Esperanto: Viadukto
viaduct in French: Viaduc
viaduct in Italian: Viadotto
viaduct in Georgian: ვიადუკი
viaduct in Latin: Viaeductus
viaduct in Dutch: Viaduct
viaduct in Japanese: 高架橋
viaduct in Norwegian: Viadukt
viaduct in Polish: Wiadukt
viaduct in Portuguese: Viaduto
viaduct in Romanian: Viaduct
viaduct in Russian: Виадук
viaduct in Slovak: Viadukt
viaduct in Slovenian: Viadukt
viaduct in Finnish: Maasilta
viaduct in Swedish: Viadukt
viaduct in Turkish: Köprüyol
viaduct in Ukrainian: Віадук
viaduct in Chinese: 高架橋

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bifrost, bascule bridge, bateau bridge, bridge, cantilever bridge, carrefour, catwalk, cloverleaf, crossing, crosspoint, crossroad, crosswalk, crossway, drawbridge, floating bridge, flyover, footbridge, gangboard, gangplank, gangway, grade crossing, intercrossing, intersection, level crossing, lift bridge, overbridge, overcrossing, overpass, pontoon bridge, rope bridge, rotary, span, stepping-stone, stepstone, suspension bridge, swing bridge, toll bridge, traffic circle, undercrossing
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