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Paris begins removal of 'love locks'

Authorities have begun the process of removing nearly a million padlocks from the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. Though a popular tradition, the "love locks" have been criticized as an eyesore and called a safety hazard.

Workmen in Paris began the process of removing hundreds of thousands of "love locks" from the Pont des Arts bridge on Monday out of fear the sheer weight of the padlocks could cause the bridge to collapse.

The bridge has long been popular with tourists and locals seeking to commemorate their love by affixing a padlock to the metallic railings on the bridge and then throwing the key into the Seine river.

But officials and Parisians have complained that the locks are both an eyesore and a danger to public safety.

"It's the end of the padlocks," deputy Paris mayor Bruno Julliard said in a statement. "They spoil the aesthetics of the bridge, are structurally bad for it and can cause accidents."

Last year, police rushed tourists off the bridge after a section of the structure

collapsed under the weight of the locks.

Nearly 1 million locks will be removed from the Pont des Arts and other Paris bridges. The railings are initially scheduled to be covered with panels of street art, and then eventually replaced with Plexiglas.

Authorities are also warning of a zero-tolerance policy for potential "love lockers" at other bridges around Paris, as well as the iconic Eiffel Tower.

"We all want Paris to remain the city of love, of romance. But we think it can stay the city of love without love locks," Julliard said.

bw/cmk (dpa, AFP)

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