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Hammersmith Bridge closed after ‘critical faults’ found

Cyclists and pedestrians can still use the bridge but it will be shut to motorists ‘indefinitely’, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham said.

Crowds watching the Boat Race from Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed to traffic ‘indefinitely’ because of structural problems (John Stillwell/PA)
Crowds watching the Boat Race from Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed to traffic ‘indefinitely’ because of structural problems (John Stillwell/PA)

A historic bridge in west London has been closed to traffic after “critical faults” were discovered in the structure.

Hammersmith Bridge, which opened in 1887, closed on Wednesday over safety concerns.

Cyclists and pedestrians can still use the Grade II* listed bridge but it will be closed to motorists “indefinitely”, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham said.

The council blamed Government cuts for the closure.

A statement said: “We have a fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge and we’re ready to start work. But, due to government budget cuts, Transport for London (TfL) says it can no longer fund the planned refurbishment. This is a huge disappointment.

“Regrettably, we’ve now been left with no option but to close the bridge indefinitely until the refurbishment costs can be met.

“So we’re supporting TfL’s (Transport for London’s) call for the Government to invest in this vital river crossing and national monument – so we can get on with the work and reopen the bridge.”

The issues were discovered during a weekly safety check carried out by the council, which said diversions are in place for buses and other traffic.

The bridge has been closed several times in recent years because of structural issues.

A TfL spokesman said: “Although funding the maintenance of the bridge is not TfL’s responsibility, we are working with Hammersmith and Fulham Council to identify a final plan for upgrading their bridge.

“We are also ready to support them in identifying the necessary funding for this work.

“Keeping local authority infrastructure in good condition is essential to ensure the wider road network stays safe and productive and helps the economy grow.

“We need the certainty of a long-term steady and sustained funding arrangement to allow London to cover the costs of its own infrastructure maintenance.”

We can’t afford to have Hammersmith Bridge closed ‘indefinitely’. It is an essential artery to keep London moving Edmund King, AA

AA president Edmund King said: “We can’t afford to have Hammersmith Bridge closed ‘indefinitely’. It is an essential artery to keep London moving.

“It will cause major congestion and hence more emissions – ironically in the same week that the ultra-low emission zone kicked off.

“The Thames is already a barrier to mobility in London, so we can’t afford to have an essential bridge closed for a long period.

“We have only half as many bridges over the Thames than there are over the Seine in Paris. All parties need to get their heads together to sort out how the essential repairs will be paid for as soon as possible.”

In January, motoring research charity the RAC Foundation warned that the maintenance backlog for council-owned road bridges in Britain has increased by a third in just 12 months.

Analysis of 2017/18 data revealed an estimated £6.7 billion is needed to ensure all the structures are up to scratch.

This is up from £5 billion in 2016/17.

Some 3,177 bridges in the worst condition have been categorised as “substandard”, meaning they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles.

Many of these structures are subject to weight restrictions, while others are under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline.

PA

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