“because without intervention, the Mont would lose its maritime character in
less than 50 years.”
The Two-Part Project
Following a decade-long study phase, the project commenced in 2005 with two
principal objectives. The first was to allow tidal waters to once again reach all
the way around the Mont and prevent silt from building up around the island.
The second was to move the tourist infrastructure surrounding the site—which
had included 15 hectares ( 37 acres) of parking lots on the causeway—to the
Meeting both objectives required a holistic approach to planning and execution, according to Mr. Weizmann. “Success depended on many factors—
environmental, functional, symbolic and cultural, as well as economic,” he says.
The project remains on schedule and on budget, despite major challenges in
each of these domains.
Mr. Weizmann encountered the first hurdles in 2006, when his team began
building a new dam at the mouth of the Couesnon River. It captures river water
and tidal seawater and expels it into the bay twice a day, flushing out built-up sediment. “Its location presented great difficulties,” Mr. Weizmann says.
“Although the dam is set back from the open sea—less exposed than it would
have been in the bay itself—its design required consideration of both the tides
and river floods, and sometimes violent weather.”
“In the highly
during a project is
not assured. But
it’s essential to
—Luc Weizmann, Paris, France
About 3 million tourists visit Mont-Saint-Michel each year.