BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE, London's oldest bridge isn't falling down, but it is laid up.  For 4 more weeks.  City inspections have revealed the damage is more widespread than believed last week when it was closed.  Blackfriars Bridge was London's first iron bridge.  The 67-metre span opened in 1875, connecting Blackfriars and Rideout Streets, it was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Co., of Canton, Ohio, at a cost of nearly $15,000.  It is one of the last remaining bow-type bridges in North America. 

In recent years it has been closed almost annually for maintenance and repairss.  Another closing will occur this summer as its steel structural members are assessed.  Among the options the city is looking at to prolong the bridge's life is converting it to one-way use or possibly making it a pedestrian link as part of the Thames Valley Parkway.  While the current work is underway, the existing walkway will remain open.

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