Ferry service planned while Hammersmith Bridge is out of action

 

The Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce has announced plans to launch a temporary ferry service for residents while the bridge is out of action for urgent repairs.

Project director for the taskforce, Dana Skelley, said: 'The taskforce agreed a ferry service across the river would be the preferred transport solution to deliver a crossing for residents in the short-term and we are working quickly to have a service in place by early next year.

'All other potential solutions, including a temporary bridge, remain under consideration to ensure the fastest possible resolution for those impacted by the closure of the bridge.'

Transport for London (TfL) also continues 'to keep the enhanced local bus services under review to respond to changing demands', the taskforce said.

The bridge is owned by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and was fully closed this autumn after cracking was identified in the cast iron structure. Critical faults were found last April although for some time it was open to cyclists and pedestrians. 

The Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce was set up by the Department for Transport in September 2020 to work towards safely reopening the Hammersmith Bridge. It is due to meet again this week, when funding issues are expected to be discussed.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps appeared to agree that the government would pay for long-term repairs in an interview with fellow Conservative and London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, however no official announcement has been made.

Current costs estimates for repairs run to between £140m and £160m.

Hammersmith and Fulham Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said: 'It will cost £46m to stabilise it, which will make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic. That work can be completed within nine months.

'It will cost up to £141m to fully restore the bridge so it can be reopened to buses and motor vehicles - a similar amount to building a new bridge. There’s a quicker option to fully restore Hammersmith Bridge but that would cost £163m.

'A temporary bridge suitable for pedestrians and cyclists would cost £27.3m. That would also take nine months to build but it wouldn’t solve the problems for river traffic. It costs £2.7m a year simply to stop additional and dangerous deterioration.'

Mr Cowan said he had twice written to the Prime Minister seeking the Government’s urgent constructive engagement and financial support.

In response, the government set up the taskforce on 9 September.

Chaired by transport minister Baroness Vere the taskforce was also attended by representatives from the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond upon Thames, the Greater London Authority, TfL, and the Port of London Authority.

Ms Skelley added that Cambridge professor and mechanics and materials expert, Norman Fleck, has also been engaged to support the work

Specialist engineers working with the council and TfL have put together ‘shovel ready’ plans to fix the Grade II listed bridge but those could take three to four years.

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