Paris is removing the famed (or infamous) Love Locks from the Pont des Arts across the Seine1. People are not happy about it. Word is that Paris will also start the same sort of work on the Pont de l’Archevêché, where the pictures in this post were taken2 .
I feel for some of the stories I’ve heard people tell about the significance of their personal locks, but I feel stronger for the infrastructure of the bridges. Just look at this picture, and keep in mind that this was taken three years ago. The locks have spawned since then.
That fence was not designed to hold this kind of weight. The bridge was not designed to hold it either. This is a stone arch bridge built in 1828; this sort of eccentric loading was not factored into the designer’s numbers.
This is an excellent example of how infrastructure can be invisible to most people when it’s working. So long as these bridges are up and maintained, it shouldn’t matter what you do with them, right? It’s a big ass bridge! Surely it can stand a few locks placed on it? Unfortunately that is not the case. Roads and bridges and tunnels and buildings and sewers and water pipes are designed and maintained at a certain capacity. Over load them and they will fail. No matter the desires of the people who placed the locks, and the personal stories behind them, these locks should come down for the health of the bridges.
Let’s end with a metaphor: if lovers were slowly but inexorably clogging up the water main to your house, would you support keeping the clog?