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Wobbly bridge opening delayed

NEWS

DELAYS TO damper deliveries and client demands for exhaustive pre-handover testing have put back the planned re-opening of London's infamous 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge until well after the New Year.

And if bad weather hampers crucial protective painting work to key parts of the £5M retrofit, it could be spring before the public is once again admitted to the structure which originally cost £18M.

Structural engineer Arup had hoped to re-open the bridge before the end of this year (NCE 3 May). But on Tuesday, associate director Roger Ridsdill Smith confirmed that US manufacturer Taylor Devices had failed to supply 16, 4m and 8m long dampers to be fitted between the piers and the suspension cables.

Ridsdill Smith blamed Taylor's component suppliers for the delay. He added: 'All the under-deck dampers have been delivered and fitted, and we have just completed installation of the two pairs of tie-down dampers at the landward end of the southern span.

'We expect delivery of the remaining dampers within the next few weeks. But the connectors between the dampers and the structure have to be prepared and painted, and this could be tricky in bad weather.'

It is not yet decided what tests are needed to convince client Millennium Bridge Trust that the solution has cured the sway problem which forced the crossing's closure only three days after it opened in June 2000, said Ridsdill Smith.

But a spokesman for the Millennium Bridge Trust said it would not allow the bridge to re-open to the public 'without very detailed testing'.

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