Posted: 01.06.21 at 15:11 by Jessica Broadbent
The Department for Transport announced today that it will contribute up to one third of the costs required to reopen Hammersmith Bridge which closed to all users in August 2020.
The funding will be provided as part of a new joint deal between the Department for Transport (DfT), TfL and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney has welcomed the news.
She said: “I am delighted to finally see a commitment from the Government to reopen Hammersmith Bridge.
"This is fantastic news and a huge relief not just for my constituents, but for residents across South West London, so many of whom have been denied vital quick access across the river for far too long.
“While I recognise that further discussions must take place for all parties to agree on the cost of the project, I am nonetheless glad to see productive dialogue taking place.
"For the sake of all those who have endured enormous disruption to their lives, I would urge all parties to continue working together constructively so that the investigations and report validations can take place without further delay.”
The 'Extraordinary Funding and Financing Agreement for Transport for London' was announced by DfT today (June 1) and states that, “during the period of this agreement, we expect to draw up a memorandum of understanding between Her Majesty’s government, TfL and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) to fund the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge – initially to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic and, depending on cost, to motorists.”
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The conditions for the funding include: "Each party agrees to pay a share of the cost. Repair costs are to be led by LBHF and TfL, HMG will not directly contribute more than 1/3 of the costs", and "That the independent Board responsible for the Case for Continued Safe Operation, reporting to LBHF, will conduct a new assessment for controlled and limited reopening of the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic once further investigations and report validations are completed at the end of June."
The 133-year-old, grade-II* crossing closed to vehicular traffic in April 2019 after a microfracture was found in its north east pedestal.
During a mini heatwave in August 2020, the cracks widened and engineers Mott McDonald advised Hammersmith and Fulham Council to also ban pedestrians and cyclists until further checks were complete and a timetable for strengthening works was confirmed.
The only detailed proposal for fully fixing the bridge, including for cars and buses, is the council’s collaboration with architects Foster + Partners and engineers COWI.