Millennium Bridge, London

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The Millennium Bridge, London is a 325 metre steel bridge that links St Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames to the Tate Modern Gallery at Bankside. It is the first pedestrian bridge crossing the river Thames in central London for more than a century. The bridge is supported by eight cables that are 120mm thick. If there is full load on the bridge, each cable has to take a strain of more than 2000 tons. The cables only dip two metres over the span of the whole bridge. The Millennium Bridge, London has a suspension design that was necessitated due to height restrictions and for providing a better view. The supporting cables are below the deck level and they provide a very shallow profile. The bridge has two river piers and it has three main sections which consist of 81 metres, 144 metres and 108 metres (North to South) making up the total length of 325 metres. The aluminium deck of the bridge is 4 metres wide. The eight suspension cables are tensioned to pull with a force of 2000 tons against the piers set into each bank, which is adequate for supporting a working load of 5,000 people on the bridge at one time.

The Millennium Bridge, London is an excellent example of a combination of art, design and engineering.   Sculptor Anthony Caro and engineers Ove Arup and company won the international design competition for design and construction of the bridge. Although it was completed in June 2000, it had to close down shortly afterward as the bridge swayed unnervingly in the wind. In order to counteract the wobble, engineers analysed the problem and found a solution by retrofitting of 37 fluid-viscous dampeners to control the horizontal movement and 52 tuned mass dampers to control vertical movement. The total cost of the modifications was £5M and the bridge was reopened in February 2002.

The southern end of the Millennium Bridge, London is near the Globe Theatre, the Bankside Gallery and Tate Modern and the north end of the bridge is next to the City of London School below St Paul’s Cathedral. The alignment of the bridge is such that the south façade of St Paul’s is clearly visible from across the river, framed by the bridge suppports.