Hammersmith Flyover Could Stay Shut for Months

Motorists advised to avoid area and take alternative routes

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Transport for London has denied it plans to demolish the Hammersmith Flyover, but has admitted it cannot rule out the closure which is causing traffic chaos across West London continuing for months.

No physical repairs have yet been carried out on the site. TfL says: " The flyover was closed on 23 December due to concerns about a serious structural defect, and work has been going on since then to carry out detailed investigations to assess the flyover, establish what remedial action needs to be taken and when the flyover can safely be reopened to traffic. 

" The damage to the ageing 1960's structure has been caused by water ingress, including salt water due to grit laid during the winter months, which has corroded and weakened the cables which help support the flyover.

" The extent of this damage is what is currently being urgently assessed by TfL and other experts.

" Engineers on-site continue to build a full picture of the condition of the complex and ageing bridge structure, with much of the work taking place inside the structure itself and so not visible to the travelling public. 

" TfL is exploring all options to reopen the flyover to traffic as soon as possible and ensure disruption is kept to a minimum, but must await the outcome of further work to test the extent of the problems found in the structure, which is expected to be completed next week.

" TfL is also actively working on the design of a solution to strengthen and extend the life of the flyover over the longer-term, by introducing additional cables into the structure. 

" This solution will be implemented well ahead of the 2012 Games."

Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, says: " 'Our team continues to work night and day alongside the world's leading structural engineers to fully understand the extent of the flyover's structural problems. 

" I have been inside the flyover and seen for myself the unique issues we face. Safety must be our top priority and we have not taken the decision to close the flyover lightly. "

TfL says local traffic diversions are already in place, along with Variable Messaging Signs - including on Highways Agency roads - advising drivers to avoid the area.

Traffic signal plans are in place to reduce disruption and ease traffic flow and plans are in place to divert traffic from the M4 to other routes if necessary. 

TfL insists it is also working closely with the relevant local authorities, including Hammersmith and Fulham. to ensure local businesses and organisations are aware and disruption can be minimised. However H & F Council has angrily demanded a full explanation of the reasons for the closure.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Nick Botterill, says: “We want to get to the bottom of what is happening, as it is simply inconceivable that the main route into and out of London in the west remains closed and may not even reopen in time for the end of the holidays.

“The closure is a disaster for local residents, motorists and the borough’s economy, and this council will do everything in its power to mitigate any further adverse impact a continued closure will have.”

January 4, 2012