Of the many high bridges that cross the Rhumel River gorge, the highest and most spectacular of all is the Sidi M’Cid suspension bridge. Opened in 1912 and designed by French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin, this cable stayed / suspension bridge hybrid was the highest bridge in the world for 17 years before Colorado’s Royal Gorge bridge opened in 1929. Although the deck measures 575 feet (175 meters) above the Rhumel river, there is a unique, natural “bridge” almost directly under the span that blocks much of the river from view. A similar type of arch and tunnel is also located under the nearby El Kantara bridge. In 2000 the Sidi M’Cid bridge was given a major renovation.The rare use of a mixed cable support system was not common outside of France and was not used on a major suspension bridge for at least half a century until 1997 when the Wujiang bridge opened in Wujiang, Guizhou province, China. In North America, the only large suspension bridges with cable stays are the Brooklyn bridge in New York, the Roebling bridge (Cincinnati-Covington) in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Wheeling bridge, also in Ohio.Sidi M’Cid was Arnodin’s second high suspension bridge. The first was the 1887-built L’Abime bridge situated some 295 feet (90 meters) over the Cheran river in Gruffy, France. As an engineer, Arnodin would became most famous for designing 9 of the 20 transporter bridges ever built. Three of these rare transportation structures still exist and retain his signature mix of suspension and cable stays.
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