Sector - Transport & Infrastructure

Catch net installed to soffit of Millennium Bridge to facilitate planned maintenance work

Millennium Bridge in central London is closed from 16 October until 5 November for planned repair works that will require a 250-m-long debris net installed on the soffit.

The deck will be repaired by FM Conway Ltd, with CAN Ltd, an RSK Group company, providing specialist rope access assistance.

CAN Project Manager Simon Donne said: “The net is approximately 250 m long and 4 m wide and will catch small items and tools that fall from the bridge, preventing them from striking passing vessels and polluting the watercourse. It allows deck refurbishment works to be completed without breaking the silhouette of the bridge, which is vital, as the central span of Millennium Bridge is a navigable channel and must remain open.”

As the location makes it subject to the Port of London Thames Byelaws, a quirky and ancient byelaw was triggered that called for a bundle of straw to be hung under the bridge during the day and a white light at night.

Under clause 36.2, a bale of straw has to be installed and relocated to regular points along the length of the bridge as the works progress. The straw bale acts as a warning to passing vessels of the work’s location and is used so that in the event of a vessel striking the bale, it would cause minimal damage to the vessel. It is also natural and will biodegrade once in the water, unlike other materials.

Despite high winds, the netting was installed in the expected five days. It is anticipated that it will be removed in three days at the end of the work.

Simon Donne said: “CAN technicians completed a complex and difficult access and rigging operation in extremely unfavourable conditions. Despite the high winds, the netting was installed to specification on time. The only fuss we had was a flood of interest from social media about the use of a bale of straw as a warning to passing shipping.”

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