Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 15:08 UK

Safety alert closes famous bridge

Transporter bridge in Middlesbrough
Six cars or 200 people can be carried across the River Tees

Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge has been forced to close after inspectors found hundreds of bolts had worn.

The landmark bridge, one of two of its kind still operating in the UK, uses a gondola on rails to carry vehicles and passengers across the River Tees.

It has emerged that 400 bolts, which hold down the track along which the gondola runs, need replacing.

Experts say work to replace the metal bolts mean the bridge will remain closed for up to a month.

Normally, about 50 of the bolts need to be replaced in any three-month period.

'Internationally recognised'

But a recent inspection identified at least 400 bolts which were in need of immediate or short-term replacement.

Bridgemaster Alan Murray said: "The bridge will be out of action for around four weeks, but staff are already hard at work replacing the bolts as fast as they can and we hope to resume normal service as soon as possible."

Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council's executive member for transport, added: "The bridge is an internationally recognised icon which remains in fantastic shape because of the care devoted to its ongoing maintenance.

"I'm grateful to bridge users for their patience while this essential work is carried out."

The bridge was opened in 1911 and is 850ft long and 225ft high at the tallest point.

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