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Tower Bridge to Get a Facelift

Monday, June 6, 2016

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One of the world’s most recognizable bridges is getting some much-needed work, and London drivers will be finding a detour for a few months while it does.

Tower Bridge, a symbol of the U.K.’s capital and oldest city, will be closed to traffic for three months starting on Oct. 1, as crews perform maintenance that London officials say has to be done every 40 to 50 years.

Tower Bridge
Guenter Wieschendahl, public domain, via Wikipedia Commons

Tower Bridge connects the borough of Southwark, south of the Thames, with Tower Hamlets, on the north bank.

The maintenance work is to include redecking the bascules—the segments of the drawbridge that raise and lower to accommodate boat traffic on the Thames. Crews will also replace expansion joints and perform waterproofing on the archways, according to the city.

The Telegraph reports that the last time the bridge’s archways were worked on was when the structure was built, more than 120 years ago.

Tower History

Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894, from a design concocted by City Architect Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry. According to the Tower Bridge Exhibition, it was constructed using 11,000 tons of steel, clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone.

The bridge connects the borough of Southwark, south of the Thames, with Tower Hamlets, the borough that includes the Tower of London, on the north bank. It’s one of five bridges across the Thames that are maintained by Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust. The work will be funded by the Trust, and won’t require taxpayer money.

According to Transport for London, about 40,000 people (in vehicles and on foot) use the bridge every day. City officials say the timing of the work, in the fall and early winter, coincides with the least boat traffic on the Thames. Tower Bridge’s bascules lift regularly—nearly every day, multiple times most days—to allow boats to pass.

In 2006, the bridge underwent work to replace a sensor that was malfunctioning, causing the bascules to stay lifted for 10 hours straight. Before the 2012 London Olympics, the bridge underwent grit blasting and repainting.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Waterproofing

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