Below is an informative article from The Barnes Village Bugle.After a period of silence, this month there is much to tell about progress with the works at Hammersmith Bridge.The pedestals have been stabilised with bespoke concrete, a planning application is being prepared for the double decker temporary bridge-within-a-bridge solution and the suggestion of a toll to drive across the bridge is being forcefully opposed by Conservative councillors in Wandsworth. As ever, we have provided links for those people who want to get a more in depth understanding of the latest developments, but we’ve given a quick summary of the main points below. Stabilising the bridgeThe key problems with the safety of the bridge are twofold. Firstly, the cracks that have been discovered in the four cast iron pedestals which bear the weight of the structure and, secondly, the seizing up of components in the chains themselves. A major milestone has been reached in making the pedestals safe this month with the pouring of a specially formulated concrete into the pedestals’ hollow centres. As anyone who has ever watched Grand Designs knows, concrete pours are tricky. And this particular concrete pour had no margin for error. The specialist magazine New Civil Engineer has given a genuinely fascinating account of the operation and you can read it here. The magazine’s article also revealed that the next stage of the process - the attachment of steel reinforcements – requires a consignment of steel, the shipment of which was delayed by the Ukraine war.For an even more in-depth explanation of what’s happening with the bridge stabilisation project there’s a handy 20 minute video to check out. The double decker temporary solutionThe same magazine, New Civil Engineer, (we’re big fans) has also given much more detail of the proposed double decker bridge-within-a-bridge temporary solution. The temporary structure running above the existing deck of the bridge would allow pedestrians and motorists to cross while permanent repairs are carried out to the bridge both on and off site. Elements of the bridge, like the decking, that need repair, would be lifted away using the temporary bridge as a works platform and transported by barges to an off-site facility for safer and easier repair and restoration. The temporary bridge would have a pedestrian and cyclists span and a vehicle ramp above. At first, pedestrians and cyclists would use the vehicle ramp to cross while the lower level was used by workers removing the decking. Once the deck of the bridge has been safely removed the lower level will be used by pedestrians and cyclists. Cars would then be able to use the upper level. The next question is when will work start on this solution? Well before anything happens the planning hurdle needs to be jumped and the Hammersmith Society reports that before work can begin a gas main will need to be diverted at the cost of £5million. The society’s newsletter concludes after outlining the next stages that “an apocryphal story floating around social media that the bridge will be open to motorised traffic by Christmas seems rather wide of the mark.” Toll fee rumblingsThe website Putney SW15 reports that Conservative Councillors in Wandsworth have “slammed” Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s plans to charge drivers a toll to use the bridge once it is repaired. H&FC have repeatedly said that raising funds via a toll is the only solution to getting the bridge repaired. The government has said that the council must fund a third of the repair costs leaving it to find between £33 and £47 million. It can’t raise council tax to do this (there are legal constraints on what it can do) so the council contends its only option is to charge a toll. The most controversial element of the toll plan is that H&FC only wants to charge a toll to those people who don’t live in Hammersmith and Fulham. H&FC council tax payers will apparently get to cross the bridge for free.
Adrian Irving ● 93d14 Comments
David, I'm sorry but you're missing the point: we need this bridge open. End of.The arguments over who pays, heritage etc... need to stop and needed to stop about 3.5 years ago. I don't want to sound like an iconoclast, but the purpose of a bridge is to connect people living on either side of the body of water it crosses. Right now Hammersmith Bridge is only partially doing that, and wasn't doing that for a good couple of years. It is undeniably beautiful, it sure is a good testament of Victorian engineering and deserves to be preserved but in order of importance I think that doing its job ought to come before looks or heritage.It is beyond pathetic that the powers that be have been allowed to talk nonsense over Hammersmith Bridge instead of coming to a solution. Fix it a la Széchenyi Bridge over in Budapest (funnily enough fixed 4 years after having been blown up during WW2), remove it and build a new one that looked different/exactly the same or do that (in my opinion garish) idea of a double-decker suppository sliding in place under its towers, whatever. Just do it.
Francis Sheehan ● 90d
Francis, It's a tribute to Victorain engineering tht the bridge lasted so long. About 3x longer than that Italian autostrada bridge. I know William Morris hated it but I believe it's considered to be worth preserving. I have a suggestion as to how it should be funded: Boris Johnson should be surcharged for the Garden Bridge fiasco. Apparently he's due to trouser £10 million a year as an after dinner speaker and lecturer.
David McLoughlin ● 91d
Perhaps we could have a Qatari Cable Car in Hammersmith to match the Emirates one in Greenwich ? Or, as I gather the Greenwich one has found a new sponsor (IFS Cloud - who they?), ask the Emiratis if they would like to sponsor a new one in Hammersmith ?
Richard Greenhough ● 91d
Francis, I think your post was spot on and you were right to point out the word "good".If you promise not to tell anyone I did think carefully about the word as I knew it would get kickback from a certain corners, naughty even childish I admit but it got the reaction I intended. We can't fully know what transport needs will be in twenty years and beyond and our grand children will not thank us if we don't repair it fully and then maintain regularly.I really can't see why anyone would be against that.
Adrian Irving ● 91d
Did you ask the guy if they could adapt the bubbles to accommodate the SUVs of aggrieved Chiswick and Hammersmith drivers who are not passionate users of their legs or coats?
Paul Campbell ● 91d
The money is no problem except DfT are only willing to stump up a third of the cost, that offer is only valid for next 18 months, and only if TfL and LBH pay a third each. TfL have not given any sign so far of offering their share and LBH are only willing to find it through tolls, which would have to be swingeing if only paid by people outside of LBH. The main losers of the closure aren’t car drivers, who made up a small minority of those using the bridge, but bus passengers, many coming up from Roehampton to the tube. Therefore a much more appropriate and feasible option would be to move the Greenwich cablecar up to Hammersmith where instead of running empty there it could complete the bus route from Castlenau to tube station. I talked to the guy who managed the original installation and he said that would be possible. It would also cost a fraction of the double-decker scheme, and allow the bridge to carry what it was originally designed for, which is not cars and buses.
Tom Pike ● 91d
Adrian, I wasn't having a go at you, sorry if it seemed that way. It just feels incredible that things are allowed to be arriving at this point. Especially as money isn't a problem...
Francis Sheehan ● 91d
I agree with you Francis, it has been farcical as my record will show.Perhaps I shouldn't have said "good" but progress is progress and the fact the pedestals are now stable is good news.Obviously there is some way to go and still uncertainty on finance, tolls, and inevitable unforseen setbacks but at least hope is still alive.
Adrian Irving ● 92d
The government, TfL and LBHF are contributing one third each to the funding of the repair but the government’s commitment only lasts until TfL becomes self financing again (maybe 2024) then they walk away and LBHF and TfL pay for everything.So while the government will chip in for costs to restore the bridge for walking and cycling, they won’t be paying for the plan for motor traffic. I don’t see any way LBHF and TfL can pay for the double decker bridge so don’t expect this to get anywhere.
Michael Robinson ● 92d
It's worse than that Francis. This is all performative. This money has been set aside by politicians to keep the motorists at bay by giving them the lie that the bridge will be opened to cars. Although it has flushed out the cravats at the Hammersmith Society who think that "preserving the architecture and urban environment of Hammersmith" entails a double-decker structure with cars thundering above pedestrians. Car uber alles. Literally.
Paul Campbell ● 92d
A brief glance at the Hammersmith Bridge Wikipedia page says that the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in April of 2019, so almost 4 years ago.Four years. Let that sink in.Four years in which the powers that be squabbled, debated, dropped the towel, thought about a ferry (!), argued some more... And we're still here. Now we're talking about the bridge reopening at some point in the future, and for a fee.I don't know what's more pathetic: that we have sunk so low, as a country, that not being able to reopen a bridge in almost 4 years is considered OK (that bridge in Italy that collapsed in 2018 was blown up in 2019 and then rebuilt in 2020, and it's not like infrastructure there is build in days!), or that we are seriously considering paying for a bridge in London like it's AD 1000 when it'll eventually open in 202x.
Francis Sheehan ● 92d
Are the conservatives in Wandsworth likely to take back control of Wandsworth Council?
Andrew Jones ● 93d
Thank you for that - interesting stuff.Re the Toll, if we're "only" talking about £33m - £47m needing to be recovered, has anyone any idea how many years might it take to pay it off (if ever)?I do know that the Severn Bridge Tolls were finally able to be dispnsed with in 2018, but somewhat ironically, there is now some pressure for Tolls to be re-introduced, since they've become severely congested during the period since!
Richard Cathcart ● 93d