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Foster's wobbly Millennium Bridge - for which Bell tolls

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The Millennium Bridge Trust is considering opening the wobble-hit Thames crossing before ultimate repairs are made and levying a £1 charge to visitors who want to make the 320m trip over.

Trust chairman David Bell said that reopening the troubled bridge for a temporary period before final repairs are begun was 'likely', but that 'a number of important issues' including security, crowd control and public liability were outstanding. 'It has been put to the trustees that it would be possible to charge a small toll to cover costs of controlling access to the bridge during this temporary period or to find sponsorship to cover these costs'. Sponsors have already approached the trust, but Bell stressed that before it can open Southwark Council needs to be assured about liabilities and no decisions have yet been taken.

In the first three days after the bridge was opened on 12 June 220,000 people went across, so a temporary opening could net over £1 million for the trust inside a fortnight. But Bell said that any surplus from a temporary opening would go to a charity and it was 'absolutely not' a back door way to get the public to pay for the repairs. 'We don't want to charge but if we do we won't make any money from it, ' he said. Guards, hired to limit visitor throughput on the bridge to around 25-30 people per minute, would cost around £4000 per week, he told the AJ.

Ove Arup and Partners delivered its interim verdict on why the bridge was wobbling - mainly because of synchronised walking of large numbers of people - two weeks ago. It is due to deliver its final report on how to fix the problem in around a month's time, said Bell. At present the preferred solution is the insertion of massive dampers across the underside of the bridge or hanging counterweighted dampers to counteract the movement of the structure. Following the publication of Arup's final findings the complicated subject of which member of the design team - Foster and Partners, Ove Arup or perhaps even sculptor Sir Anthony Caro - is liable for the problems will be dealt with. The £18.2 million 'blade of light'was awarded £7.6 million of Lottery cash.

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