1. ITV Report

Not just an ordinary bridge

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge on the move again Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is the newest and most advanced crossing over the Tyne. It cost £22 million to build, weighs nearly a thousand tones and, when tilted, has a clearance of 50 meters, that’s the same height as the Tyne Bridge.

But in mid March, while raised to allow river traffic through, it got stuck in the up position. This was down to an electrical fault that caused the bridge's hydraulic lifting rams on either side of the river to go out of sync. Left unchecked this would have twisted the bridge, severely damaging it. Thankfully safety protocols kicked in, but this stopped the tilting process, jamming the bridge.

With the electric motors that usually power the hydraulics out of action the bridge operators had to turn to back up diesel engines. But now the rams were slightly out of alignment and the option was corrected this by hand.

To do this engineers had to utilise the last fail-safe available to them, a hand operated pump. Lowering the bridge using this technique would take quite some time but all they had to do on this occasion was make a small adjustment.

It is still unclear exactly why the bridge systems failed but the best theory is that it was the result of water damage when the Tyne broke its banks in December.

This is the first time the Millennium Bridge has become stuck open and Gateshead Council says it will continue to investigate the cause so they can keep this North East landmark on the move.