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Paris Bridges Divorce Love Locks

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

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PARIS—Attention, Benjamin + Suzanne and thousands of fellow lovebirds: Bridges in the City of Love are no longer that into you.

Cracking down on a longtime romantic ritual, the Paris City Council began on Monday (June 1) to remove tens of thousands of padlocks lovingly clicked closed on spans over the Seine.

What began in 2008 as a charming little ritual (completed by tossing the lock key into the river) has left a ponderous, rusting mass of unsightly steel tonnage that damages the integrity and appearance of the bridges in question, officials say..

USA Today screen grab

Padlocks infest and corrode the Pont des Arts and other bridges over the River Seine in Paris.

The locks heap weight and additional corrosion on the bridges, and the keys and assorted debris from the locking rituals clogs the Seine below.

A year ago, police evacuated the historic Pont des Arts footbridge over the river after a section of railing collapsed under the weight of the locks. The bridge carries more than 700,000 locks.

Meanwhile, the ritual has spread to other bridges, creating two major concerns for the city: "degradation of property heritage and a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists," the Paris City Council said on its website.

No Love Locks

A grass-roots organization called No Love Locks has been the locking ritual for years, calling it "a plague on our city's historic bridges and sites."

USA Today screen grab

"[T]he heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine," a lock-loathing group called No Love Locks says.

"In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine, which has itself been polluted by thousands of discarded keys," said the group, which had gathered nearly 10,500 signatures by Monday (June 1) on a petition to get Paris to change the law.

"The time has come to enact a ban on love locks in order to return our bridges to their original beauty and purpose," the group says.

On Monday, the two American expats behind No Love Locks told Mashable that the lock cleanup was "a bold first step," but that they would continue to push for a citywide legal ban on the practice.

'Capital of Love'

City Council said last week that it was going to liberate the spans from their padlock prison. The city will also cover, and eventually remove, the metal side grill on the Pont des Arts with solid plexiglass panels.

Facebook / Brooklyn Bridge

Love locking was also popular on the Brooklyn Bridge until New York City DOT called a halt in 2014. Workers on the $500 million bridge rehab project had to remove thousands of locks from the span.

"Paris should stay the capital of love. Couples should carry on declaring their love, proposing marriage, maybe on the Pont des Arts, but... just not by using a love-lock," added Julliard.

In May 2014, New York City put its foot down on love locking on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Removing several thousand locks addded substantially to the $500 million price tag on the bridge's rehabilitation.



Tagged categories: Bridges; Corrosion; Project Management; Structural steel

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