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Tower Bridge closure will hit SE1

Hundreds of people who rely on Tower Bridge to travel between home and work will have their journeys disrupted as the bridge is closed for major maintenance, but a temporary ferry service will make life easier.

The bridge will be temporarily closed for its first major maintenance operation since 1974 from midnight on 6 January until midnight on 16 February. Work will be carried out to replace the hydraulics and pumps that enable the bridge to open and close. The bridge will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians for this period.

Andrew Downes, the Corporation of London's principal engineer, said: "Over 40,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day, and that has taken its toll on the hydraulics that work the bascules, the opening sections of the bridge."

Inreased road traffic and heavier vehicles have led to difficulty with the operation of the nose belts at the ends of the bascules when the bridge is being lowered, and the pawls, which support the rear ends of the bascules when lowered, becoming dislocated.

Andrew Downes added: "These problems have led to a misalignment when the bridge is lowered, and if it is allowed to continue it would result in damage to the pivots and bearings. If this were to happen, the bridge would need to be dismantled to repair." The works are thought to have a life expectancy of at least 20 years at the current weight limit of 17 tonnes.

Commuters unwilling to detour via London Bridge will be able to take advantage of a special boat service to be provided by City Cruises from Butler's Wharf Pier to St Katharine Dock. The cost will be 1 each way and the service will run from 0730 to 0930, 1200 to 1500 and 1600 to 2200.

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