Government funding package might allow use by pedestrians and cyclists
Hammersmith Bridge remains closed to all traffic. Picture: Reach/Darren Pepe
There is mounting speculation that the Government and TfL will agree a £40 million funding package for strengthening works for Hammersmith Bridge, which could allow it to reopen this summer.
The Evening Standard has reported that funding for the strengthening works may be included in the Department for Transport’s next round of funding for TfL, which is due to be decided by 28 May.
Despite this, TfL and the Department for Transport have said this Wednesday (19 May) that they will not comment while their negotiations are ongoing.
If agreed, it would enable pedestrians and cyclists to use the bridge again.
But residents across South West London continue to wait for news on plans for a full restoration that would allow buses and cars to also cross.
A schedule for reopening Hammersmith Bridge to cyclists and pedestrians will also depend on there being a confirmed timetable for when those strengthening works will happen.
Experts have told Hammersmith and Fulham Council and all parties that the bridge could reopen before those strengthening works take place, as long as there is a confirmed timetable.
This is because the council’s engineers Mott McDonald have completed checks on the bridge’s pedestals, and found they are currently strong enough for pedestrians and cyclists to use it safely, although their condition is in decline.
Mott McDonald’s analysis is also undergoing what are known as ‘category three’ checks before they can be fully validated.
The council’s head of public realm, Bram Kainth, said on April 29, “Subject to the satisfactory outcome of these [category three] safety engineering checks, the CCSO [Case for Continued Safe Operation board of engineers] for the bridge may be reviewed to potentially allow limited controlled use and/or opening of the bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic.”
It is understood that the CCSO and Mott McDonald are likely to agree that the bridge should only reopen for cyclists and pedestrians once the timetable for the expensive strengthening works is confirmed.
The 133-year-old, grade-II* crossing closed to vehicular traffic in April 2019 after a microfracture was found in its north east pedestal.
During a mini heatwave in August 2020, the cracks widened and Mott McDonald advised Hammersmith and Fulham Council to also ban pedestrians and cyclists until further checks were complete and a timetable for strengthening works was confirmed.
The only detailed proposal for fully fixing the bridge, including for cars and buses, is the council’s collaboration with architects Foster + Partners and engineers COWI.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
May 19, 2021