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READY TO ROLL

Positioning of the world's first 'eyelid' bridge was achieved this week across the River Tyne to an accuracy of 25mm - half the tolerance specified. The operation was described by main contractor Harbour & General as 'nerve-wracking, delicate but in the end flawless'.

Strong winds had delayed the arrival of Gateshead Council's £22M Millennium footbridge by a fortnight but had died down on Monday during the three hour positioning. Calm conditions had already enabled the vast floating crane to carry the near complete 800t steel bridge 8km up river from its assembly yard in two hours.

Once lowered on to bearing plates inside hollow concrete side piers, the 105m wide crossing was winched sideways using a bridge mounted cable tie to achieve final 1mm accuracy for 80 securing bolts to be added.

Consultant Gifford & Partners and architect Wilkinson Eyre designed the bridge as an inclined arch supporting the cable stayed horizontally curving deck.

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