Project 'shovel ready' but needs government funding to proceed
Transport for London (TfL) and the Government have ‘parked’ funding negotiations for Hammersmith Bridge repairs amid the coronavirus pandemic, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport has said.
The west London river crossing has been closed to traffic since April last year, when cracks were found in the pedestals.
Repairs are expected to cost around £120 million – and TfL has been negotiating central Government funding from the Department for Transport.
But Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander said this Monday (15 June) that talks have been paused amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Those discussions have been parked while we’ve been dealing with all of these other huge issues,” she told the London Assembly transport committee.
While “everyone would like to get the bridge open to motorised traffic” the project will come with “a very hefty price tag”, Ms Alexander warned.
Some 22,000 vehicles and 1,800 buses used the bridge each day prior to closure – and have now been diverted for more than a year.
London Assembly member Tony Devenish, who represents Hammersmith and Fulham, said a closed bridge is “a real hindrance to west London” during the pandemic.
Restoring the crossing will be particularly important for elderly and disabled residents, he said.
But Ms Alexander said Hammersmith Bridge is the type of “shovel ready” project the Government could fund immediately.
Last week, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on Mayors and local authority leaders across the country to propose new projects that can be started quickly, the Financial Times reported.
Hammersmith Bridge is owned by Hammersmith and Fulham council, but TfL has spent £25 million to fast-track designs for repair work.
And during lockdown, the network has pushed ahead with these plans, Ms Alexander said.
“We’ve got the design work there now and we could move forward with this – but it will require Government support in order to get that bridge reopened,” she added.
“At the moment there is not an easy way to find £120 million in TfL’s capital programme in order to do this work.
“If Government will assist us in funding this then we can make it happen.”
Last week details of planned capital spending by Transport for London (TfL) showed that a temporary foot and cycle bridge by Hammersmith Bridge is one of a limited number of projects which have survived in a much reduced programme. Building this would allow the repairs to the existing bridge to proceed more quickly.
CGI of the proposed temporary bridge
The temporary bridge is a seven metre-wide, prefabricated steel structure, supported by two piers in the river. The bridge would be step free, with a 5.5 metre-wide surface for people walking and cycling. Access would be by shallow ramps from Queen Caroline Street on the north bank and from close to the junction of Castelnau and Riverview Gardens on the south bank. TfL would need planning permission from both Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham councils and a decision was originally anticipated this summer.
Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter
June 16, 2020