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'Curse' hits Millennium jobs

Oxford footbridge gets the wobbles and South Yorkshire's Earth Centre suffers roof truss defects

THE MILLENNIUM curse has struck two more projects which are now undergoing remedial work because of major flaws in their construction.

The Cutteslowe cycle and footbridge, which spans the A40 east of Oxford, is having extra piers introduced to its southern approach ramp because of fears about excess movement.

And on the South Yorkshire Earth Centre environmental project, on which Taylor Woodrow is main contractor, defects are delaying erection of the landmark solar canopy.

The original design of the Oxford bridge included piers, but they were later omitted because it was thought that they would detract from the design.

The wobble came to light when the steel bridge opened to pedestrians in June and cycles in July. Now contractor Hochtief is re-introducing the piers to remedy the problem.

Simon Duke, project manager for client the Highways Agency, said: 'There is nothing wrong with the bridge itself. Tests have been carried out by transport research organisation TRL and the oscillations are not outside the design criteria.'

The bridge, which is part-funded by the Millennium Commission, is near a school, a factor behind the decision to strengthen the structure.

Mr Duke said: 'Minor vertical movement was noticed which gave the perception of sway. We did not want the integrity questioned with it being so close to a school so it was decided to introduce the extra piers.'

PB Kennedy and Donkin, monitoring agents for the scheme, refused to comment.

In Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, work on the second phase of the £15 million Earth Centre, funded by the Millennium Commission, has been held up due to defective steel roof truss connections.

Micro-cracking has been found in the recycled steel nodes which connect the timber members of the solar canopy at the centre.

Taywood Engineering has been testing the connections since the cracks were found during routine monitoring.

The defects are blamed on a high copper content within the connections, which were made with recycled east European steel.

Subcontractor Oak & Woodland will replace the nodes on the reclaimed timber trusses before it can continue the 1,000 sq m canopy which is one-quarter complete.

The canopy, which will provide solar energy for the centre's exhibits, will now be finished next March.