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The BBC's George Eykyn
"Still a major attraction"
 real 28k

Monday, 12 June, 2000, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Millennium Bridge closed
Millennium Bridge
Engineers are trying to work out why the bridge sways so much
The swaying 18.2m Millennium Bridge across the Thames in central London is to close to allow engineers to carry out further checks.

It will be shut from 2200BST on Monday so experts can start to work out why the newly-opened bridge "moves excessively" under the weight of thousands of visitors.

It could be several weeks before it reopens.


As soon as we know what the cause of the movement is, we will tell people what we are going to do about it

Millennium Bridge Trust

The Millennium Bridge Trust admitted the bridge had "a problem," but said it did not pose a risk to safety.

On Sunday an estimated 50,000 people visited the bridge - which links St Paul's Cathedral with the Tate Modern.

Double that figure visited on Saturday when the bridge was closed for 10 minutes after being opened to pedestrians.

Restrictions on access to the bridge remained in place for a second day on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said: "As soon as we know what the cause of the movement is, we will tell people what we are going to do about it."

Trust chairman David Bell apologised to people who might have felt discomfort or "unease" crossing the bridge on Saturday.

Queues
Security men restricted access to the bridge
"The current problem, which involves excessive movement on the bridge in certain conditions, is something that we will overcome," he said.

"We are in discussions with the engineers to find out the exact cause of the problem. It is something that we will put right."

A spokesman for Foster and Partners said the structure was intended to have some movement.

He added that the company is waiting for the engineers' report before issuing a further comment.



If it is possible to "tighten" the bridge they would be better to do it sooner rather than later

Simon Hughes MP
The pedestrian-only bridge was inaugurated last month by the Queen and is central London's first new river crossing since the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894.

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Southwark and Bermondsey, said he had been briefed that the structure did not pose a risk, but it was "unsettling" for people using it.

"The Millennium Bridge is a stunning achievement. However the excessive movement is extremely unsettling for those using the bridge, particularly the elderly, the young and the disabled," he said.

"If it is possible to "tighten" the bridge they would be better to do it sooner rather than later."

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