New Civil Engineer: Hammersmith Bridge could be permanently closed to motorists

Hammersmith Bridge could remain permanently closed to motorists, a senior Transport for London (TfL) director has revealed.

Speaking at New Civil Engineer’s Future of Roads conference, TfL director of project & programme delivery Nick Fairholme revealed that TfL is working up several options for the bridge with Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

You can read the full article on the New Civil Engineer website by following the link below. Opens in a new window

My comment

Nick Fairholme described three main options that TfL are working on:

Option 1: keep the bridge as it is, carrying out no repairs and leaving it as a cycling and pedestrian bridge.

Option 2:  carry out a partial repair to the bridge to allow it to open to motorists, restricting its weight limit to only single-decker buses and localised traffic.

Option 3: carry out a full repair to the bridge, to allow double-decker buses and cars to cross.

Although Mr Fairholme didn't give costs, it's understood that option 3 might cost in the region of £100m. That pretty much rules it out.

Option 2 would be cheaper, but nevertheless expensive, and would take years. And it would take us right back to square one - queues of traffic (in other words, private cars) in both directions on Castelnau and in Hammersmith, traffic jams on the bridge, a return to slow-moving lines of bored, angry, distracted drivers and the pollution that their vehicles bring to the area. And of course, the total amount of traffic in the area would increase, as it always does when new routes for traffic are opened.

So option 1 would seem to be the only sensible way to go. It would cost a small amount to repair the surface and make it fit for use by bicycles, of course. Beyond that, other low cost work might include:

  • a provision for those less able to walk, such as a buggy or rickshaw shuttle service, or even (as I have seen suggested somewhere) a narrow gauge train
  • provision for pedestrians to walk on the roadway as well as the two pedestrian walkways; after all, it's their bridge as much as anyone's
  • some landscaping or addition of planting to the bridge, to make it not only a functional river crossing, but also something that we can be proud of for generations to come.

Obviously the fact that the bridge is closed to traffic wasn't planned. But now it's happened, let's take the opportunity to improve the way people travel round this part of London, in spite of opposition from car drivers and local politicians.

Once they see how good it can be, they won't want to go back.

Posted on 9th July 2019

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