More details released on Hammersmith Bridge proposals

Image above: Visualisation of the temporary Hammersmith Bridge, a pedestrian walkway would form the bottom level of the bridge; Foster Cowi

Engineers have not yet decided how cyclists would cross the temporary bridge

Further details regarding the proposals for a temporary structure at Hammersmith Bridge have been released, with an expected planning application for the designs to be submitted soon.

The plans for a double-decker structure were presented at a series of recent public exhibitions held by engineers Cowi and architects Foster and Partners. Engineers plan to build two large steel trusses, north and south of the river, which would be pushed through the bridge pedestals and tower piers and joined at the centre to form a span over the existing road surface of the bridge.

The new structure would have two levels: the lower level for pedestrians and the upper level for motorised traffic. This would allow bus services to resume across the bridge with the possibility of single-deckers being used.

It is not clear whether cyclists would be allowed to ride across the bridge. The engineers have not yet decided how cyclists would cross, and the visualisations released by Foster Cowi do not show cyclists riding across the bridge.

The existing bridge would then be dismantled piece by piece and lowered onto a barge to be taken to another location. The existing stiffening girders on the bridge are at the end of their useful life and must be replaced, according to Cowi engineers. The existing bridge would be checked for defects and refurbished before being returned by barge.

Engineers at the presentations stated this solution was the best all-round option, as repairing the bridge on-site would require a total closure for a prolonged period, which would deprive pedestrians and cyclists access. The temporary bridge would allow the quickest way to get motor traffic running over the bridge.

Images above: Sections of the original bridge would be removed and restored via barge, single decker buses could use the bridge; Foster Cowi

Temporary Bridge could open by 2026

Suggestions the bridge could just be left open without any attempt to restore motorised traffic were dismissed by the engineers. The defects in the bridge are so serious that it would likely need to be closed at some point to make it sage even for pedestrians and cyclists to use.

If the plans are approved by both Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond councils, the engineers estimate the temporary bridge could open by 2026. The work to repair the old bridge would then continue for a further two years for a possible reopening in 2028. A major question mark remains over costs and who will pay for the repair.

Although Hammersmith and Fulham Council have said the proposal is cost-effective compared with other options, inflationary pressures will likely mean initial estimates of £160 million will be exceeded.

A toll has been suggested as one means of covering some of the costs, and sources close to the project believe that a change of government would significantly increase the chance of funding being available to complete the scheme.

Hammersmith Bridge closed to all motor traffic in April 2019 after serious defects were found in its structure. Since July 2021, it has been open to pedestrians and cyclists.