Multiplex will hope that a successful lifting of the Wembley arch will draw a line under a troubled start to 2004.
Wembley stadium is about to reveal itself to the world. At 2pm on Friday, Multiplex began to lift the 315m-span main arch into place. The arch is what sets Wembley apart from other stadiums. When in position it will be tower 133m above the pitch, and will be taller than the London Eye. In the low-rise North London suburbs its visual impact will be immense (not least for football fans arriving from the North via the M1).

The build up to the lift has not been without problems. Last month, contractors had to carry out remedial work on the western arch base after it was revealed that the concrete used in its construction was not strong enough. The concrete had to be removed to a depth of 1.1m without damaging the steel reinforcement bars. Multiplex claimed that the mistake would not affect the lift schedule, which it said was always pencilled in for mid-2004.

Wembley has also been blighted by safety concerns. In February site worker Patrick O'Sullivan was killed and another man was injured when a crane collapsed. In March there was a second crane accident, when two workers with steel firm Cleveland Bridge were seriously injured when a man-riding basket hit a roof platform and fell 4m.

In February Building revealed that Multiplex quantity surveyors had had serious concerns about the concrete contractor PC Harrington last July. Multiplex said that the QSs had no responsibility for safety or site management and were not qualified to make any judgements on the subject.

Health and safety issues at Wembley were also in the news last week, when it emerged that Multiplex had taken over safety induction training from the construction unions. Multiplex denied there was anything untoward and told Building that safety training was carried out on a rota basis, with the unions and Multiplex taking training in turns. Nevertheless some site workers thought the move ill-timed as it came a month after the Construction Safety Campaign held a memorial march at Wembley to commemorate the death of Patrick O'Sullivan. One source at Wembley said that Multiplex was trying to reassert its authority after the march.

Despite the safety issues, the lifting of the arch represents a triumph for Multiplex. The lift will take place over four weekends and by the end of the summer Britain will have visible proof that it can deliver mega-sports stadia. A fact that hopefully won't be lost on IOC delegates considering London's proposal bid for the 2012 Olympics.