Hammersmith and Fulham Council is demanding that bus companies should pay for repeated damage to the safety barrier on the approach to Hammersmith Bridge.
The council says the barrier has been repaired over 100 times in the last six months and the barrier pole itself replaced 31 times - at a total cost of £50,000.
The council says the barrier is ripped off its stanchion by bus drivers on an almost daily basis.
Barriers have been installed at both sides of the bridge as one of the control measures to prevent vehicles above 7.5 tonnes from driving over it.
Opened in 1887, the bridge was intended for horses and carriages, rather than cars, buses and lorries and if heavy vehicles continue to gain access via the broken barrier, there is a real danger that it will become unsafe, forcing the council to close it so expensive and lengthy repair work can be carried out.
The barriers have been designed by Transport for London (TfL) but because the approach to the bridge is not part of the TfL road network, the council is currently footing the bill.
When a bus approaches, the barrier is supposed to open automatically. If that fails drivers are supposed to press a key fob that they are issued with. If the barrier still refuses to open drivers are supposed to dial a phone number which automatically opens the barrier.
However, CCTV coverage shows that some drivers are driving up to the barrier and simply tearing it off before driving through.
Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: " With council budgets stretched more that ever before, our taxpayers do not expect to foot the bill because lazy bus drivers cannot be bothered to follow the barrier opening procedures or use their fobs correctly.
"We are demanding that TfL and the bus companies pay us back as a matter of urgency and will also report any drivers that we catch in the act to the police.
“Hammersmith Bridge was not built to withstand heavy traffic and if this continues and heavy good vehicles are able to drive over the bridge we may eventually need to carry out strengthening works which will have a huge impact on traffic flow across the borough.”
November 23, 2011