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The London Millennium Footbridge Opening

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In general, the London Millennium footbridge was finally  opened by her majesty the Queen, with huge publicity in June 2000. 80,000 people crossed the bridge on the first day according to the BBC In-depth report. Others, such as Arup themselves, think there could have been as many as 100,000 individuals. This bridge was innovative in its design and any new engineering project always carries something of a risk. The people involved did however do all they felt possible in order that their project would be a success. It was a highly publicized project, especially because it was right in the heart of London and had the Queen herself to open it.

It could have all fallen very flat. It proved to at the very least an embarrassment to the Queen, the government, and the companies involved. Risks were minimized by in the first instance closing the bridge on the 12th of June and then looking at various possible options, and finally making necessary adjustments.   As it is the original disaster has, over time, become a long term triumph. Opinions are almost entirely positive.

The bridge of course wobbles. Not as much as it did at first though, but enough to notice if you try. To some extent, it made the builders, designers, and in particular, Tony Blair’ s New Labour Government, look very foolish. Some see even this as a positive. There were lots of Millennium projects, but this was one of the most visible ones,   not least because of its position, and it apparently didn’ t work very well as the newspapers and other media quickly made clear.   One opinion is that they created a three-dimensional bridge using a two-dimensional model.

That was ten years ago.   Now it is accepted as a British triumph according to a survey of some twenty people, all of whom have walked across.   It is fun. ‘ No one remembers a bridge that stays still’ was one opinion from a happy and frequent user. It is also convenient – there are more tube stations and bus services near to the north bank of the Thames than the south and the bridge provides a convenient, safe link that is also a very positive experience.

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