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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Albert Bridge feeling the strain
Albert Bridge
Less traffic could save the bridge from lasting damage
Albert Bridge will be closed to traffic on Saturday and Sunday to make way for lane restrictions.

It comes amid fears that heavy traffic could be potentially damaging the structure over the Thames.

Width limits to prevent vehicles over two tonnes crossing the central London bridge have proved ineffective.

Vans and 4x4s have been using the bridge and despite being the same width as regular cars many of them weigh over two tonnes.

The closure will be followed by lane restrictions with one lane open travelling northbound and one lane open southbound.

Engineers hope the move will reduce the amount of vehicles crossing the bridge and prevent any possible damage to the site.

Early action

The structure is one of the more ornate bridges crossing the River Thames and is well known for its intricate ironwork.

An investigation by Kensington & Chelsea Council found around 4,000 vehicles weighing over two tonnes pass through the bridge's current width restrictions every day.

Bridge consultants working for the council insist this amount of traffic flow is not sustainable and urge early action to prevent possible damage.

Deputy Leader of Kensington & Chelsea, Daniel Moylan, said: "Private cars, while remaining approximately the same width, have become heavier over the last few years and many now weigh over two tonnes.

"Many of them are able to pass through the bridge's weight restriction and this means the council has to reassess how it protects the bridge."

In the long run the council hopes to upgrade the bridge to a three tonne limit.

See the pressures facing Albert Bridge

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