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Why Paris is removing the 'love locks' from Pont des Arts bridge

Hung on a bridge by couples to express eternal love, the locks are now being removed by Paris authorities. What's the concern?

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A newly wed couple in April 2014 resting on the Pont des Arts in Paris. Any hope that the love locks that cling to Paris’ famed Pont des Arts bridge would last forever will be unromantically dashed by the city council who plan to dismantle them Monday for good.

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP/File

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Lovers in Paris, beware: City authorities are taking down thousands of padlocks affixed to the famed Pont des Arts bridge.

The city says the locks, usually hung by couples to express eternal love, are causing long-term damage to Paris heritage sites. Last summer a chunk of fencing fell off under their weight.

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Authorities began dismantling the metal grills along the sides of the bridge Monday and plan to remove 45 tons of padlocks in all.

Some residents had campaigned against the locks, which started appearing about a decade ago and now cover sites across the French capital.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported last year, the group calling itself No Love Locks, was started by  two Americans to raise awareness of the danger the the fad represents. They say from Pont de Arts, the trend has spread across Europe – and even the globe. There are locks on the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge, and other landmarks across the world.

“Unfortunately, the historic bridges of Europe and around the world aren’t feeling the ‘love’ at all, nor are the citizens of the cities who are burdened with maintenance costs from a trend that has escalated out of control,” the two write on their website.

Jean-Pierre Lecoq, the local mayor, wrote that the locks in toto add as much as 10 tonnes, or 22,000 pounds, to the bridge.  “One can really wonder about the long-term capacity of this bridge to bear such weight,” he wrote on his website.

 The Pont des Arts bridge will soon have padlock-proof plexiglass panels instead, while the city explores other ways for Paris visitors to express their "amour," including street art on the subject.


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