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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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An empty beer bottle has accomplished what millions of visitors over 120 years could not: broken a walkway floor at London's Tower Bridge.

Open less than two weeks, the glass floor on London's Tower Bridge had to be temporarily closed after the bottle fell and shattered one of the panes.

The bottle and floor both broke Nov. 21 when the empty bottle fell off a tray being carried by a member of a catering team, according to The Telegraph.

Tower Bridge Exhibition

The Tower Bridge walkways are popular venues for parties, corporate events and weddings.

The damage was superficial, not structural, officials said.

"We are gutted it's happened in the first couple of weeks when it's been open to the public, but it's completely safe," Chris Earlie, head of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, told the newspaper.

The glass floor, 138 feet above the River Thames, was unveiled Nov. 10 on the west walkway. A similar floor is scheduled to open today (Dec. 1) on the bridge's east walkway.

Glass on Glass 'Shortsighted'

Earlie said the section of glass that shattered was a "sacrificial layer." With five layers of glass in each pane, engineers repaired the section by replacing only the top layer.

Tower Bridge shattered glass
Courtesy Twitter / @the1gordo

Witness Peter Gordon posted this photo to his Twitter account, followed by a reminder that the bridge and its glass exhibit were still safe.

The area was quickly covered to protect guests from splinters; however, media reports said the situation was made worse when someone walked over the broken glass in stiletto heels.

The section was inspected and replaced by the end of the weekend.

"We should have said 'no glass on the glass section of the floor.' It was a bit shortsighted of us," Earlie said. 

'A Big, Gaping Hole'

The glass floor is 11 meters long by 1.8 meters wide (36 feet long by six feet wide), and each of the six glass panels weighs 530 kilograms (1,168 pounds), according to the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Tower Bridge glass floor
Screen grab via TowerBridge.org.uk

Each of the glass panes has five layers. The one that busted was the "sacrificial layer" and was inspected and replaced within two days.

The £1 million ($1.58 million USD) project was funded by the City of London Corporation and the Bridge House Estates.

According to Earlie, one of the main objectives was to make "it look as real as possible ... a big, gaping hole in the floor.

The 120-year-old combined bascule and suspension bridge opens about 1,000 times each year for ships to pass through.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Design; Floors; Glass; Maintenance programs; Project Management

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