They’re called “love locks. The equivalent of carving your and your beau’s names into a tree — but with the names on a padlock, locked onto a bridge railing.
But District Department of Transportation workers cut several love locks from the Key Bridge on Thursday morning, fearing the padlocks could do more harm than good.
“We would not want to encourage this kind of campaign because it would encourage others to do the same thing, and that would affect the structural integrity of the bridge,” said Reggie Sanders, a DDOT spokesman. “The intent was good but I think the problem can easily get out of hand, and that’s what we’re concerned about most.”
In New York, workers removed more than 9,000 locks from the Brooklyn Bridge. A section of footbridge railing in Paris with love locks on it collapsed last summer. Officials there are now encouraging couples to instead upload selfies to a Web site dedicated to enduring love, the Associated Press reported.
Transportation officials in the District worried that the District bridge could suffer the same fate.
Sanders said the department’s chief engineer advised officials that the love locks had to be removed. He said plans to cut the padlocks off last week were delayed “because of other priorities” but the 10 or so locks did not compromise the structure of the bridge.
Sanders said officials were also concerned that people would start to affix things larger than a padlock to the Key Bridge. He said workers put the locks in a department storage facility after they were cut from the bridge Thursday and have not thrown them away.
At some point, arrangements will be made to allow lovers to retrieve their locks, he said.
Sanders said the department will inspect other bridges for love locks in the next few weeks.
But, he added: “We’re definitely not against love, that’s for sure.”