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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 13:13 GMT
New York inspired by Tamar Bridge
Tamar Bridge
The Tamar Bridge project attracted world interest
New York bridge builders have turned to a pioneering British project for inspiration on how to improve their own landmark bridges.

The Tamar Bridge, which links Devon and Cornwall, is the world's first suspension bridge to be widened using cantilever platforms.

The 34m groundbreaking engineering has attracted international attention as it was the first time platforms were added while traffic still used the bridge.

The newly widened five-lane bridge fully opened to the public on 20 December with only finishing work such as painting still to be done.

The Tamar's place in engineering history is assured

Richard Fish, project manager

Following the opening, chief engineer for the New York State Bridge Authority, Bill Moreau, visited the Tamar project to study the work first hand.

He said: "Suspension bridges are very difficult to work on as engineers have to consider weight and balance at all times.

"Tamar is fascinating because three lanes have been turned into five with only a small increase in weight."

New York has many aging suspension bridges and Mr Moreau and his team are looking at revamping them or knocking them down.

Mr Moreau looks after two suspension bridges, one of which is the Mid Hudson Bridge which needs greater traffic capacity.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is a world-famous suspension bridge
New York City has 38 major bridges, including the world famous Brooklyn, Manhattan and George Washington bridges, and four of them are owned by the Mass Transit Authority.

Its principal research engineer, Dr Are Tsirk, has also been keeping an eye on the Tamar project to consider whether similar techniques could be used on the Bronx Whitestone bridge.

Cornwall's assistant director of planning, transportation and estates, Richard Fish has been to New York to lecture on the project.

"Engineers the world over have been watching this project closely because it is absolutely unique in bridge technology.

"Now the Tamar's place in engineering history is assured as the world's first suspension bridge to be widened using cantilevers."

The bridge first opened in 1961 with three lanes for traffic and a central span of 335m (1100ft).

When it was opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the UK and today is still jointly owned by the people of Plymouth and Cornwall.

Although up to 40,000 vehicles a day used the bridge during the three year project, the scheme caused tailbacks for motorists.

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

20 Dec 01 | England
Bridge opens after 30m revamp
30 Nov 99 | Scotland
VAT threat to bridge tolls
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