The first two of Westminster Bridge's 14 cast iron fascias have been replaced as part of a major Transport for London project to preserve and improve the bridge.
The 15 tonne fascias were lifted by a 35 metre floating crane from the river. A third fascia will be replaced in November.
Concern has been growing for the fascias which have decorated the arches of Westminster Bridge – now a grade II• listed structure – since its opening in 1862.
The fascias are vulnerable to knocks from river traffic. Transport for London has taken the decision to replace them all, while restoring the decorative spandrels and shields that adorn them.
"By working from floating work platforms and scaffolding in the river, taking deliveries from the river, even positioning the site offices in the river, TfL has caused minimal disruption to pedestrians and road users," says project manager Phiroz Dalal.
This is the latest stage in the complete renovation of Westminster Bridge which began in 2003 as part of TfL's £10 billion Investment Programme.
Work is now underway to continue the remaining fascia placements. The project is expected to be completed in 2009 and will include new lighting and resufacing.