With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the National Capital Authority (NCA) has gotten into the spirit by announcing it’s taking bolt cutters to the love locks on Aspen Island’s John Douglas Gordon footbridge.
The NCA says it is taking preventative action now, removing the love locks before any serious damage occurs to the structure of the bridge. The railings aren’t engineered to hold additional weight.
I wrote last year that while not having attached a love lock to a bridge myself (I have a partner, but maybe I’ll do a lovelock with my cats’ names on it), I thought they were pretty cute and a nice idea, so I’m a bit disappointed the NCA is cutting them off. I was of the impression there wasn’t that many love locks on the bridge, so I went down to Aspen Island last night to check it out.
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There were about 280 love locks across the whole bridge. This might sound like a lot, but when you actually see it for yourself, the bridge is in no immediate danger to collapsing under the weight of the padlocks.
The NCA said last year that there were no immediate plans to remove the locks, unless they began to interfere with the maintenance schedule, in which case they would be removed.
It doesn’t appear that the locks are interfering with anything at the moment, but rather that the NCA is trying to nip it in the bud early. I understand the need for public safety and all that jazz, but the love locks aren’t even close to being a problem yet. It just seems very party pooper of the NCA to be cutting them off.
Executive Director of the NCA, Helen Badger, said, “Instead of couples attaching pad locks to the Aspen Island footbridge we encourage them to celebrate their relationship by enjoying National Carillon recitals on Aspen Island.”
I understand that they feel the need to provide an alternative for people but attending a Carillon recital probably isn’t really on the mark with the interests of people that want to leave a love lock.
Evelyn Moon and her husband left a love lock on the bridge in April 2014 after they were married on Aspen Island. Evelyn said that her first reaction to hearing her lovelock would be cut off was one of sadness.
“It’s a bridge of love and happiness, so many fond moments and memories for people at one of the best times in their lives,” she said.
A Facebook post exploded last night with many people expressing annoyance and sadness at their love locks being removed from the bridge, with some pledging to return to the bridge this week to retrieve their lock. Others are unable to take their lock back after the key was thrown into Lake Burley Griffin.
Josie Ponticello and her husband (pictured above) left a lock on the bridge a year ago when they were married, but live four hours away from Canberra and can’t retrieve their lock in time.
The love locks will be removed from 6 February 2015, and an ongoing program will be put in place to remove any lovelocks that may appear in the future.
Update: The National Capital Authority says that if couples have broken from tradition and retained the key, they have until Friday 6 February to remove the locks themselves. On Friday, cutting the padlocks off structures on National Land will result in “irreparable damage to the padlocks”.