Millau Viaduct
By Matt Palmquist

(Business 2.0) – Since opening a month ahead of schedule in December, the Millau Viaduct has gained international recognition as a major engineering feat and one of the most stunning bridges ever built, greatly reducing traffic congestion between Paris and Barcelona. The 1.6-mile bridge--the highest in the world and taller than the Eiffel Tower--employs a new cable-stay construction that blends with the landscape of the Tarn River Valley. Collaborating with British architect Norman Foster, France's Eiffage, Europe's sixth-largest construction firm, privately funded the bridge in exchange for a 75-year operating contract. That arrangement, as well as the fact that the bold design required no tunnel construction and therefore minimized the environmental impact, provides a blueprint for governments that have struggled to complete massive engineering projects on time without massive cost overruns. -- M.P.