Planned Strengthening of Hammersmith Bridge Postponed
Council say not enough funds to do work until the end of 2017
Hammersmith and Fulham Council (H&F) have postponed plans to reinforce Hammersmith Bridge according to the BBC.
The suspension bridge is not able to carry more than one bus at a time and restrictions were put in place in May in order to preserve its lifespan prior to strengthening works. The Council threatened to close the bridge in September when Transport for London (TfL) removed the bridge monitor enforcing the restriction. The sighting by BBC reporter Gareth Furby of three buses on the bridge at the same time prompted them to insist that TfL ensured compliance with the one bus limit within 24 hours.
According to the BBC, TfL agreed to provide £20million to the cost of repairing and reinforcing the bridge which was built in 1887. However, now H&F say that due to a funding shortfall of £5.3million the work cannot proceed according to schedule. The work is likely to require an extended closure of the bridge. Mr Furby says he has seen correspondence between H&F Council and TfL in which a council officer states, "It is possible that the excessive vibration caused by buses is causing the nuts and bolts to become loose. Soon this bridge will dismantle on its own!"
A Freedom of Information request also uncovered a report by engineering consultancy Hyder for H&F which stated the bridge is non-compliant for vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes. Council leader Stephen Cowan told the BBC that the council had experienced a 66% reduction in its budgets since 2010, but was not prepared to increase council tax by 3.75% as recommended by the government.
Mr Cowan added, "There's no way that this council is going to spend anything like that money, the majority of this issue is the responsibility of TfL and we will work with them to make sure the bridge is fit for public purpose."
TfL have not commented on whether negotiations are still occurring with the Council over the matter.
December 1, 2016