Access to pedestrians and cyclists to be restored this weekend
Hammersmith Bridge viewed from Castelnau in Barnes. Picture: Reach/Darren Pepe
In an unheralded move it has been confirmed that Hammersmith Bridge will reopen to cyclists, pedestrians and river traffic from 9am on Saturday (17 July).
The bridge has been closed for almost a year due to fears it would collapse – leading to a possible catastrophic loss of life.
The bridge was closed completely in August 2020 after Hammersmith and Fulham Council engineers found worsening cracks in the structure, due to a number of severe heat waves.
Now, a temperature control system has been introduced, helping to prevent cracking in the bridge’s 19th century cast iron pedestals.
In April 2019, the bridge was closed to motor vehicles on public safety grounds.
The council is considering a double-decker engineering solution developed by world-leading architects Foster + Partners and bridge engineers COWI which would see a temporary framework laid over the existing decking, saving £40m while potentially cutting three years off the current timetable.
The proposal would also allow sections of the bridge to be removed and taken downstream by barge and repaired off-site.
Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said, “Safety is always the top priority, but residents who live on the south-side of the river, particularly in Barnes have been borne the brunt of this closure.
“They have been cut off from work, school, vital services and transport links for almost 12 months, and while Richmond Council put measures in place to support them, it has taken its toll.
“I hope that this good news will provide some relief as we can now look forward to Hammersmith and Fulham Council progressing with the full restoration.”
Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, added, “I know how difficult the last eleven months have been for people, particularly children needing to cross the river to get to school and those who need to attend medical appointments or get to work.”
Cllr Sam Hearn,tThe Traffic and Transport Spokeperson for the Hounslow Councillors Conservative Group said, "Whilst welcoming the reopening Hammersmith Bridge to cycle and pedestrian traffic we remain baffled as to why it has taken so long to provide a technical solution. in addition, it is regrettable that so much scarce time and resource has been wasted on developing alternative options such as a ferry.
"The big issue remains the stalling of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and TfL in bringing forward a viable scheme to fully reopen the bridge. As the London economy struggles to recover from the effects of the pandemic the need for this river crossing becomes ever more obvious. The plight of those many Chiswick homes directly and indirectly affected by the impact of the traffic diverted by the bridge closure remains sadly unresolved. The news is good but it is "too little, too late."
James Mayer - Local Democracy Reporter
July 18, 2021