Boris Flies in to View Hammersmith Flyover
Confusion still reigns over likely date of reopening
There is still no indication of the date on which the Hammersmith Flyover will reopen other than a pledge from Boris Johnson that it will definitely be available in time for the Olympics.
The Mayor flew back from a skiing holiday today (January 6th) to view the site and was told by engineers on the site that at least another week of investigation will be needed before a decision can be made about the time-table for reopening. This may involve limited use of the road by light traffic.
Boris Johnson, said: “One thing I can assure Londoners of is that a plan is being finalised within the next few days and work is already beginning on strengthening the flyover so that it is fully operational well ahead of the 2012 Games.”
The complex flyover was forced to close due to water damage that has corroded and weakened the cables that give the bridge its strength. It had been thought that it would be up to ten years before any major work was required on the flyover, however recent maintenance checks showed work would be required much earlier than anticipated.
The flyover was built with a heating system which failed to operate and therefore it needed to be gritted during cold weather. The salt in the grit is believed to have corroded the cables leading to the current problems.
Transport for London (TfL) say that a team of 80 of their engineers, contractors, and leading structural engineering experts have been working nonstop on site and within the structure throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
They have inserted cameras into the structure of the flyover at 100 different locations to assess key sections of the cables it contains. Today, they told the Mayor that investigations of the extent of the damage to those cables must continue for a further week before engineers will be in a position to decide whether it is strong enough to allow its reopening even to light traffic.
Preparatory work can begin ahead of the installation of new cables within the structure that will strengthen the flyover and allow it to take full vehicle loading again.
Traffic police rapid response units have been placed on permanent standby in the area so they are ready to unblock any incidents or clear accidents as soon as possible. Hundreds of traffic signals have been rephased to reduce disruption as much as possible on main arteries although this is may be causing traffic tailbacks on non-arterial local roads. Non urgent roadworks have been cancelled and there is a daily review of whether other works should be suspended. An extra lane has been created on Talgarth Road to help minimise the impact of the closure.
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 which they describe as a disaster for local residents.
Until TfL can ensure the flyover is safe to be reopened to traffic, the advice to motorists continues to be avoid the area if at all possible, or if you have to drive allow more time for your journey.
January 12, 2012