Taylor Devices, Inc. The World Leader in Innovative Shock Control
DAMPER RETROFIT OF THE LONDON MILLENNIUM FOOTBRIDGE – A CASE STUDY IN BIODYNAMIC DESIGN Douglas P. Taylor Taylor Devices, Inc. 90 Taylor Drive North Tonawanda, NY 14120-0748 716-694-0800 ABSTRACT The Millennium Footbridge was opened to the public on June 10, 2000 – the first new bridge across the River Thames in historic London in more than a century. Nearly 100,000 people used the new bridge in its first day of operation. On June 12, 2000, the Millennium Bridge was ordered closed, due to hazardous deck motions. Seemingly random pedestrian footfalls were causing resonance of the bridge deck, with lateral accelerations measuring up to 0.25 g. The selected method of retrofit was to add fluid damping to the bridge – and test the structure with groups of up to 2,000 people. INTRODUCTION The London Millennium footbridge is sited on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom, between St. Peter’s Hill and St. Paul’s Cathedral on the north bank of the river, and the Borough of Southwark with the nearby Globe Theater and Tate Modern Art Museum on the South.  The Millennium Bridge is the first new bridge across the Thames in London in more than a century, and was the result of an intense competitive bid process, with more than 200 competing design entries.  Each team consisted of an architect, an engineer, and an artist.  The winning team was Foster and Partners (architects), ARUP (engineers), and sculptor Sir Anthony Caro. As with any modern construction in a historic area, considerations were expected in the final bridge design to accept the latest design codes and local design ordinances, while preserving and protecting the historic context of the site.  In this case, the bridge design constraints included a maximum height limitation, so that tourists would be provided an unobstructed view of the area.  An additional constraint was the requirement for the bridge design to allow adequate clearance for marine traffic on the River Thames.  When these two constraints were applied, only a very small vertical window remained for construction of the bridge itself. The bridge design team elected to use lateral suspension cables, where the cables are located at the level of the bridge deck.  Two piers are located in the river, with a main span of 144 m between piers, and end spans of 81 m on the north and 108 m on the south.  The bridge deck is 4 m wide, and uses articulated sliding joints spaced at regular intervals along its length.  The architectural design theme for the Millennium Bridge is that of a “Blade of Light”; expressed and exemplified by the slender, ribbon-like cross section of the structure.  A photograph of the bridge is provided as Figure 1. BRIDGE OPENING – JUNE 10, 2000 The Millennium Bridge was officially opened to the public on June 10, 2000, and immediate problems were noted. Maximum pedestrian loads of 2,000 people filled the entire bridge deck to capacity, with a resulting loading density of approximately 1.5 people per square meter.  Under these conditions, the bridge exhibited severe lateral sway in a frequency band of 0.5 to 1.1 Hz, with lateral accelerations of up to 0.25 g.  As many as five separate structural modes were being excited, and pedestrians found it virtually impossible to walk on the bridge.  Many held on to deck handrails ...next page