Love locks on Hague Bridge found sliced

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Someone has slashed dozens of “love locks” attached to the rails of Ghent’s Hague Bridge.

“I don’t see the point, if you think they are so ugly, why do more damage to them? I don’t get it,” said Nikki Hudgins.

Hudgins said she rides her bike across the bridge regularly. The padlocks, left behind by lovers, have never bothered her.

“I think they’re sweet. I get it… people want to express themselves. I like it, it’s fun,” she said.

On Tuesday, she was disappointed to see many of the locks sliced and damaged.

“I don’t understand the motivation behind it.”

Norfolk resident Justin Schaffner said he doesn’t like the locks, but agrees that damaging them wasn’t necessary.

“The slicing seems malicious,” he said. “But the locks themselves… it’s basically littering. It’s defacing a bridge, public property. I think it’s kind of schmaltzy nonsense.”

He isn’t alone. Earlier this year, a group of local residents launched a website and petition aiming to have the locks removed for good. The “Unlock Our Bridge” group further argues that the rusty, protruding locks pose a safety risk to passersby.

“Banging into a pedestrian bridge rail without suffering a serious injury is an entirely reasonable expectation,” the site reads.

Hudgins said she has never felt threatened.

“I ride my bike over this bridge like every day back and forth and I can say, honestly, none of these locks have ever hurt me. Not once. It’s amazing!”

In past statements to both the group and to 10 On Your Side, city officials have said that the locks are not a safety concern, not a means of graffiti and not a violation of any city code.

On Tuesday, however, Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch said that the damaged locks will need to be removed.

“The exposed metal poses a potential safety issue to the public,” Crouch stated in an email.

A leader of the “Unlock our Bridge” group could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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