Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

Author Bio ▼

Ian joined Informa (formerly UBM) in 2018 as the Editor of Safety & Health Practitioner. Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in business to business trade print media, in the automotive sector. He was Online Editor and then moved on to be the Editor of two publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.
August 14, 2020

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Hammersmith Bridge: Heatwave exacerbates ‘critical faults’ and closes bridge completely

Hammersmith and Fulham Council have closed London’s Hammersmith Bridge indefinitely, to all traffic, after the recent heatwave was discovered to have caused further cracks.

Hammersmith Bridge closure

First constructed in 1824, the bridge was waiting to undergo refurbishment when it was closed in 2019 as ‘critical faults’ were discovered. At the time, pedestrians and cyclists were still able to cross the bridge from Barnes to Hammersmith, but seven buses services were suspended.

The latest discovery means that all traffic will now be blocked from using the bridge and no boats will be allowed to pass underneath it.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader. Cllr Stephen Cowan said: “Safety is the number one priority. I’m absolutely sure that we averted a catastrophe by closing this 19th century suspension bridge to motor vehicles last year.

“We have some of the best engineers in the world working on this scheme. They advise we now face a similar dilemma.

“I appreciate how inconvenient this will be to thousands of people on both sides of the river and I am sorry about that, but we must follow the engineers’ advice which is why the bridge will be closed with immediate effect today.

“We will update everyone as soon as engineers have investigated the scale of the recent damage. I have instructed them to find a plan to safely reopen it as quickly as they can.”

Hammersmith and Fulham Council stated that the 123-year-old bridge’s structure was never designed for modern traffic and high volumes of heavy vehicles such as buses and Government budget cuts meant that TFL has been unable to keep up the repairs, which are now estimated to cost in excess of £140m.

It was later reported that corrosion has been found on the bridge, which caused ‘hairline microfractures’, that can potentially become bigger cracks on the bridge’s footing, if heavy pressure is applied on top of it. The bridge was expected to be closed to traffic for up to three years.

Buses were previously ordered by the council with a strict rule of only allowing one bus on the bridge at a time, but in 2016 Transport for London removed their bridge wardens, which were ensuring that this rule was enforced, leading to a breech of the agreement.

It is estimated that up to 16,000 people used the bridge every day, before the original closure.

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