Routine checks carried out this week have led to inspectors finding “critical faults” in Hammersmith Bridge leaving no option but for it to be closed indefinitely to motorists.
The sudden closure has prompted council leaders to go on the attack and point the finger at the government with the council insisting that it has a fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge but cannot proceed due to the squeeze of budget cuts.
It means that Transport for London (TfL) says it can no longer fund the planned refurbishment and the council has been with “no option” but to close the bridge until the refurbishment costs can be met.
In a statement, the council has attempted to make people aware that the Grade II listed, 132-year-old structure was never designed for modern traffic with hundreds of daily journeys by heavy buses causing regular distress to the bridge.
The issue is not a new one as back in 2015, Hammersmith and Fulham Council agreed with TfL in 2015 that they would only run one bus in each direction at one time, while it developed a longer-term strengthening plan but in checks this week it became apparent that the damage had reached a critical point.
The council’s statement added: “We’ve had to urgently close Hammersmith Bridge to motorists because of safety concerns. Our weekly safety checks have revealed critical faults and we have no choice but to shut the bridge. Closing the bridge is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we know it will inconvenience many people. We’re sorry for that disruption, but we must put the safety of the public first.”
The local authority is once again supporting TfL’s call for the government to invest in the river crossing which allow workers to get on with the necessary work and reopen the bridge.
Pedestrians and cyclists are still be able to cross the bridge with diversions in place for motorists, including the seven bus routes which use the bridge.