It’s a dizzying four-month project that ended this Friday in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. A team of ten rope access technicians and two site managers were hard at work securing the cliff overlooking the Pompidou public garden.
240 meters long for about twenty meters high. These are the dimensions of the cliff overlooking the Pompidou garden and part of the parking lot rue Montée de la Tour. She was stripped of her plants and purged. Several anchors have been made as well as various occasional reinforcements to secure it. It was decided to install fences and nets in the most fragile places rather than completely covering the cliff with overall protection. The visual impact would have been too great, while the place is located in the middle of a remarkable heritage site and a stone’s throw from the Philippe-le-Bel tower. The layout was also developed in consultation with the Architectes des Bâtiments de France.
After four months of construction, the appearance of the cliff is quite different. There is more purging than expected: “We dug up the rock to the right, near the car park, where we eliminated 70m3 of rocks which were large overhangs. For the rest of the purge, we had to remove about forty m3 of small blocks“, says Nicolas Vergara, engineer and director of the South branch of the Hydrogeotechnics company, who was assistant to the project manager. She also worked alongside the companies EPC France and Hydrokarst.
“You had to do your work, it was necessary”
To the left of the cliff, the rock was in a more damaged state, in particular by the presence of prickly pears. Wire netting had to be added to contain the rock conglomerates. The work is now complete: visual surveillance and maintenance will continue in the months to come. Detailed visits only occur on average every ten years: “The fences are still designed to withstand 20 or 30 years without corroding significantly”, assures Nicolas Vergara. Between the preliminary studies, the contracting authority and the works, it cost around €475,000 excl. VAT (including €378,000 excl. VAT just for the site itself, Ed. the entire financing of the construction site.
Even if there was no immediate danger for the seven properties which are located on the edge of the cliff, a certain relief is palpable among the residents. Although they have been impacted by the works. “There was a hellish noise, dust everywhere. To hang a protective net, they damaged my hedge. There remain final constraints which seem to me difficult to compensate at the aesthetic level. But you had to do your work, it was necessary“, comments Jean-Marc, who lives at 34, rue Montée de la tour.
As a reminder, the municipality was alerted by a rockslide that occurred at the end of 2020. After securing the potentially dangerous site for passers-by and parked cars, a geotechnical diagnostic study was carried out in June 2021 to find out the reasons for these instabilities and to be able to carry out the necessary reinforcements. “According to the results of this study, it appeared necessary and urgent to carry out the work on the rock face“, indicates the town hall. Today, it’s done. The car park is open again, but it will still be necessary to wait some time to access the Pompidou garden again, which still needs to be restored by the Green Spaces department. .