His home is in Vendée, his workplace in Charente-Maritime. Almost every day, Fabrice takes the Brault bridge, a structure linking the two departments that crosses the Sèvre Niortaise. Until May 18, date of an unfortunate breakdown forcing to leave it in high position.
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It is therefore impossible to cross it by car. The cylinder head broke during a conventional maneuver allowing the navigation of boats. "Although subject to regular maintenance operations, this rupture was not detectable and therefore could not be anticipated," said the department of Charente-Maritime in a press release.
A new cylinder should be ready by June 9, but it cannot be installed as long as the deck is vertical. The challenge is therefore to lower the deck, a delicate operation via the installation of cable cylinders and winches. This phase of work is scheduled to start on 12 June. A return to normal is envisaged between June 19 and 23, "subject to technical and / or climatic hazards," says the community. The cost of repairs is currently being estimated and will be borne by the two Departments concerned.
12,500 vehicles per day
In the meantime, the daily life of users of this busy road between La Rochelle and the Vendée coast – 12,500 vehicles per day on average, with peaks at 25,000 in summer – is undermined by traffic jams. Most of them are forced to cross Marans, a town already poisoned by traffic jams – 10,000 vehicles a day – which has been waiting for its bypass project for five decades.
"Passing through Marans, my usual 45-minute journey has already been extended by 40 minutes when things are not progressing. It's awful! Fortunately, it is rare that I am there around 18 p.m. Usually I finish later and have a little less problems. I lose 10 to 15 minutes," says Fabrice.
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This forty-year-old hopes like many that the bridge will be repaired quickly, but is not surprised by this breakdown. "This is far from the first time there have been problems, it is dilapidated. Heavy goods vehicles over 26 tonnes are not supposed to pass over them, I can assure you that this is not respected. I see a lot of exceptional convoys on it," he said.
For the time being, the Department of Charente-Maritime recommends for long journeys to "divert its route to Niort and not to Marans". A piece of advice that amuses Christiane, retired in the Rochelle agglomeration, who visits her parents every fortnight in the Vendée. "The detour is huge (50 km more, Editor's note)! I cross Marans trying to avoid rush hour. I take longer than usual but it's still bearable," she says.