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Blackfriars Bridge officially closes as rehabilitation work ramps up

A person bikes across Blackfriars Bridge through its temporary walkway fencing on June 14, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/AM980

The city is asking for patience and cooperation from residents as long-awaited rehabilitation work begins on the 142-year-old Blackfriars Bridge.

City officials announced Thursday that the historic bridge linking the city’s Blackfriars neighbourhood to the downtown was officially closed to allow for its removal and restoration.

That work, slated to finish in November 2018, will see the bridge lifted from its abutments and taken apart. Some repairs will be completed inside of a shop during the winter, allowing for better quality work and safer working conditions, city staff say.

The east side of Blackfriars Bridge on Thursday. The City of London

Work currently underway includes the removal of pedestrian fencing, traffic and pedestrian railings, and deck boards, the city said.

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READ MORE: City awards $7.9M contract for Blackfriars Bridge rehabilitation in London

“Public cooperation and patience is required while this valuable neighbourhood connection is renewed,” said Doug MacRae, division manager of Transportation Planning and Design at the City of London, in a statement, adding unauthorized entry of the site is a hazardous activity.

A rendering of the rehabilitated Blackfriars Bridge. The City of London

Pathways running north and south along the river will remain open, but pedestrians and cyclists will have to use alternate river crossings, such as Oxford Street, Queens Avenue, or Dundas Street. Those using pathways on the Blackfriars side of the river are asked to use the recommended detour on Napier Street.

The city says police officers will monitor the area after construction hours and anyone who witnesses trespassing or suspicious activity in and around the work site is asked to contact police.

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PHOTOS: Historic photos of Blackfriars Bridge

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Blackfriars Bridge as seen from the east bank of the Thames River, circa 1875. The old Carling's Brewery can be seen in the background. O'Connor & Lancaster via Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library
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Blackfriars Bridge as seen from the east bank of the Thames River, circa 1880. The old Carling's Brewery can be seen in the background to the right. Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library
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Blackfriars Bridge as seen in an aerial photograph from 1922 taken by the Dept. of Lands and Forests. Map and Data Centre/Western Libraries/Western University
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Blackfriars Bridge as seen from the east bank of the Thames River, circa 1930. Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library
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The eastern end of Blackfriars Bridge, circa 1930. Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library

It’s estimated the $7.9-million rehabilitation, to be completed by McLean Taylor Construction Ltd., will add up to 75 years to the bridge’s lifespan. Pedestrians, cyclists, and eastbound vehicular traffic will be able to use the bridge once the work is finished. It has been closed to vehicular traffic since late 2013.

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The wrought iron bridge, erected in 1875, was designated a heritage structure in 1992 and is one of a small number of bridges like it that are still in use.

– With files from Liny Lamberink

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