A temporary river crossing may be coming to Hammersmith while its historic Victorian bridge undergoes major repair – and two options could be on the table.
Sadiq Khan confirmed at his monthly Mayor’s Question Time today that Transport for London (TfL) and bridge owners Hammersmith & Fulham Council are investigating the feasibility of installing a short-term walking and cycling bridge, enabling repairs to Hammersmith Bridge to be completed more quickly.
And he agreed that TfL should also consider proposals just unveiled by marine engineering firm Beckett Rankine for an off-the-shelf temporary bridge that would also take vehicle traffic including buses.
The Beckett Rankine plan would cost £5 million, according to details revealed in New Civil Engineer magazine, while costings are being prepared for the walking and cycling bridge with a view to a decision “in the coming months”, Khan told London Assembly Members.
Hammersmith Bridge, now Grade II* listed, was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, best-known for building London’s first sewer system. The first suspension bridge on the Thames, constructed of cast iron, wrought iron and wooden plates, it was opened in 1887 by the Prince of Wales and the target of IRA bombs in 1939, 1996 and 2000.
The bridge was used by 22,000 cars and 1,800 buses daily in 2015, when bus use was restricted due to concerns about the elderly structure. It was closed to all motor vehicles in April this year after detailed surveys revealed micro-fractures in the iron casings of the pedestals holding its suspension cables in place, with ongoing wrangling between TfL and Hammersmith & Fulham over paying for repair work.
Mayor Khan confirmed that TfL had so far allocated £25 million for design and preliminary work on the bridge, ahead of the full repairs, which are estimated to take three years.
Hammersmith & Fulham announced the beginning of the works last month, and have pledged that the bridge will be “fully restored to its former glory”, accommodating cars and buses as well as cyclists and pedestrians, though bus traffic may still be regulated.
“We are working hard with Hammersmith & Fulham to open the bridge,” the Mayor said, warning that the project was “technically challenging”. Discussions were underway with the council, the Department for Transport and heritage organisations to get funding in place, he added.
With initial estimates running to £120 million, the council has pledged that borough residents will not pay the full costs. “They pay enough already and this bridge is used by, and belongs to all Londoners,” the council says on its website. “Hammersmith & Fulham Council is working with TfL to submit a bid to the government to fully fund the restoration of the one of the capital’s most iconic river crossings.”
Photograph by Alex Muller under creative commons licence.
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