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Good progress on Hammersmith Bridge

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