The City of London Corporation originally planned to reopen the iconic bridge on New Year's Eve, but said that "due to favourable weather conditions and well organised planning, management, and project execution, the extensive refurbishment works were able to be completed ahead of the holiday season, meaning the bridge will be open to all users for the Christmas period".
Works undertaken during the three month closure of the vital river crossing included:
- Replacement of the decking on the bascules (the bridge's moveable sections)
- Corrosion prevention and repair operations
- Replacement of worn expansion joints
- Resurfacing of fixed roads and walkways
- Waterproofing of approach viaducts
- Overhaul/maintenance of key mechanical and lift components
- General cleaning/repairs to the towers, as well as replacement of river navigation and traffic signal lights
The Corporation said the "vital refurbishment", which was first announced in June, was done to avoid the risk of unplanned and protracted emergency closures, and will help to ensure the 122-year-old bridge’s smooth operation for decades to come.
“The decision to close Tower Bridge to vehicles was not taken lightly, but I am immensely pleased at how well the project has gone," said Chris Hayward, chairman of the planning and transport committee.
"I am particularly happy to be able to open the bridge a week early as a Christmas present to all Londoners. I would like to thank motorists, local residents, businesses, and of course commuters for their patience while we undertook this essential work. Special recognition should also be given to the dedicated teams who planned, managed, and undertook these complex works."