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Dublin battles tearaway bridge joy-climbers

REPUBLIC OF Ireland's Dublin City Council is taking action to prevent vandals scaling the arches of its new landmark James Joyce bridge over the River Liffey after designers failed to take account of local youths.

So many teenagers have taken to climbing the steel superstructure the Council fears that it is only a matter of time before one of them comes to harm.

'The contractors are working on a possible design change and we will move very quickly, if needed, ' stressed Dublin's chief engineer, Michael Phillips.

It is understood that while climbability was part of the risk assessment of the bridge, designers took into consideration the climbing activities of 20 year olds rather than the 15 year olds now terrorising the bridge owner.

Phillips pointed out that experience from similar bridges elsewhere indicated that climbing by the 15-year-old age group died down after the novelty wore off.

They then faced occasional problems only from older trespassers abseiling from bridges.

It is this risk that designers primarily tackled.

However, engineers fear that climbing by youngsters on the bridge, which officially opened in June, will continue.

The Santiago Calatrava designed bridge features two shallow raked arches above the deck. But following a public inquiry, the height of the arches was cut by 2m to reduced visual impact, resulting in a much shallower, and a much more accessible slope.

This feature, plus its location in a 'not so salubrious part of the city' according to the council, meant the risk of climbing was much higher. It is now assessing whether the problem really is a novelty or long term risk.

The bridge already has 24 hour surveillance and regular Garda and council checks are made.

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