This week I met with Councillor Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and Councillor Simon Hogg Leader of Wandsworth Council to discuss the reopening of the bridge. This is the latest in a series of meetings that I hold with all the stakeholders to keep campaigning for the bridge to be reopening to traffic. Overall good progress is being made on the stabilisation works, some progress on plans for the major restoration works but there is still no progress on the Government funding the major restoration works.
Stabilisation works nearly complete
Hammersmith and Fulham Council have nearly completed the stabilisation works which is the first phase of the repair works. There has been considerable repair of the four pedestals and the next critical phase of the works will be to replace the bridge’s corroded and seized bearings with new rubber bearings. This will require jacking up the bridge and some weekend closures. This will be the final part of the £8.8 million stabilisation works, which Cllr Cowan expects to be completed by Christmas.
Plans for the temporary bridge and restoration of the bridge agreed
After a public consultation earlier in the year, Hammersmith and Fulham have chosen Foster + Partners with COWI to design the temporary truss structure which will be a double decker bridge built inside the existing bridge. The bridge would then be removed and taken away by boat to be restored and returned and then the bridge could be reopened for traffic. This would take 3-5 years. For more information about the specific proposals you can visit this page here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/hammersmith-bridge
But no funding arrangement has been agreed
The restoration costs of this heritage bridge were very high three years ago, with an estimated £140 million. But this has gone up considerable in this time, and increased further by the war in Ukraine where the steel would have been sourced from. With costs now estimated at well over £200 million, this is even further beyond the Council’s budget and will need to be financed by Government.
The Business Case for the programme was submitted to the Department for Transport by Hammersmith and Fulham Council in early 2023, and included a funding package based on a toll. This is currently being evaluated by the Department for Transport and is awaiting a response from the Government. I will keep you updated on further developments in due course.
There was also an excellent debate in the House of Lords on Hammersmith Bridge this Monday, although the Government response was very disappointing.
You can see this here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/7ca08bc7-5c3f-4bd2-8524-bb602fab651c (Start time 14:48:30)
And read it here: Lords Hammersmith Bridge debate
If the Government had recognised their responsibility to reopen this major transport route back when it first had to be closed, then it could have been being restored by now. Instead we have had years of delay and congestion, pollution and disruption to people and businesses across Putney and Roehampton and the whole of South West London.
Some people are in favour of keeping the Bridge closed to traffic, but I feel that this is very unstrategetic way to reduce car use which reduces cycle use in Putney because of the extra vehicles on the road. We need better public transport and bus routes, and this closure has cut important bus routes for Putney and Roehampton. We have the environmental impact of increased pollution and congestion.
I will continue to raise this in Parliament and to meet with Ministers, MPs, the Mayor of London, and Hammersmith and Fulham Council to demonstrate the very damaging impact this is having on our area, and campaigning for the funding needed to reopen the Bridge.
Finally, I have created a survey regarding how the closure of Hammersmith Bridge has impacted you and the local economy. The approximate completion time is 5 minutes. Your answers will inform my future work. The survey link can be found here: https://www.fleuranderson.co.uk/hammersmith-bridge-survey/