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Progress on the Falkirk Wheel project was at the heart of the AME's recent Millennium Link conference.

Work on the 35m diameter wheel, that will form the interchange between the Union and Forth & Clyde canals at Tamfourhill, has not yet begun - although surrounding work is continuing apace.

The mild steel wheel design is the result of serious brainstorming by architect RMJM, after British Waterways rejected the first design as being 'too Victorian.'

Bachy Soletanche design manager David Beadman said: 'They wanted something for the 21st century, something that couldn't have been built 10 years ago.'

The space age result will eventually support two water-filled boat carrying caissons each with double watertight doors. This means boats can transfer between the caissons and the aqueduct and Forth & Clyde basin. The wheel section of the project is expected to be complete by November 2001.

'The wheel is going to be one of the wonders of the modern world, ' said Falkirk's Provost Dennis Goldie.

The Union Canal extension to connect both canals is well advanced, with a bridge under the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line recently completed.

And a tunnel to take canal boats under the Antonine Wall is rapidly taking shape which will eventually carry the canal boats across to a 20m high aqueduct and on to the top level of the wheel itself.

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