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2000: Swaying Millennium Bridge closed

Huge crowds of people have been blamed for forcing the temporary closure of London's new bridge on the day of its opening.

The city's first new river crossing for decades began swaying violently in the wind under the weight of hundreds of pedestrians on Saturday morning.

Police became concerned and the bridge was closed briefly while engineers made safety checks to the structure.

A limit was subsequently imposed on the number of pedestrians allowed to cross the bridge, which spans the Thames from St Paul's Cathedral to the Tate Modern gallery on the South Bank.

A spokesman for architects Foster and Partners who designed the bridge with engineers Ove Arup and Partners said: "Because there was such a huge number walking all at once across the bridge, which is very unusual, there was a certain amount of swaying.

"The bridge is intended to have some movement. It's a suspension bridge - if there isn't movement there can be a problem."

Pedestrians had to wait for half an hour before they were able to continue crossing the bridge.

The project cost more than 18m and was designed by architect Sir Norman Foster and the British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro.

It is intended to look particularly striking when lit up at night. Sir Norman said it would form a "blade of light" across the Thames.

Some of the money for the bridge has come from Lottery funds. The Millennium Commission contributed about 7m and the Corporation of London gave a further 3.5m.

At the official dedication ceremony, London mayor Ken Livingstone said: "It will be so good to actually walk across the river peacefully, without cars and trains thundering by."

In Context
After three days the bridge was closed for modifications in an attempt to prevent the swaying.

The 5m solution involved the installation of 91 dampers, similar to car shock absorbers, designed to reduce the movement of the 350-metre bridge.

Work to correct the problem started in May 2001 and was completed in January 2002.

Following walking tests using 2,000 volunteers, the bridge was deemed safe and opened successfully the following month.


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