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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 23:11 GMT
Volunteers test bridge for wobbles
Walkers on Millennium Bridge
Walkers crammed the bridge for the evening test
Two thousand volunteers have been putting their best feet forward to test London's "wobbly" Millennium Bridge.

Architects, engineers and workers from surrounding offices were marshalled en masse across the bridge, led by the Mayor of Southwark Hilary Wines, to check on the success of repairs carried out since it was found to move too much.

The 18.2m bridge, central London's first river crossing for more than a century, was opened on 10 June 2000 but was shut three days later.


The bridge was incredibly steady

Stephen McConnell
Tester
The "synchronised footfall" effect of hundreds of people stepping in unison triggered such an alarming swaying motion the engineers decided to close the bridge.

However, a series of 90 dampers, or shock absorbers, have now been fitted to the 350m bridge, which links the City of London and the south bank of the Thames, in an attempt to stop it "wobbling".

The adjustments got the thumbs up from one of the first to cross, Stephen McConnell, who teaches English at City of London School.

He said: "The bridge was incredibly steady, I couldn't detect any signs of movement at all."

Millennium Bridge
The bridge could be open to the public in weeks
The results of the test will be analysed by engineering company Arup.

It worked with original architect Lord Foster to stop the wobble, at a cost of 5m.

Malcolm Reading, the Millennium Bridge project director, said he hoped the tests would show the bridge was much more stable.

"The bridge will still move as it is a suspension bridge, but the test is that it will not move so much that it causes discomfort for the people crossing it," he said.

"The reason there are 2,000 people on the bridge tonight is that it is the greatest amount of force that can possibly be exerted on it."

Two groups of independent engineers will also analyse the results and if the experiment was successful, the bridge could reopen within weeks.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Hall
"The first computer readouts indicate remedial measures have worked"
The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"It does look pretty steady at the moment"
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