Minister will consider temporary traffic crossing while Hammersmith Bridge is repaired

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia has secured an assurance from the head of the Hammersmith Bridge task force that consideration will be given to opening a temporary traffic crossing while the main bridge remains closed.

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Hammersmith Bridge: Closed since April 2019

Cllr Govindia was given the assurance by roads minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton, who is leading the Government Taskforce charged with overseeing repairs to the stricken bridge.

The assurance came in a letter to Cllr Govindia after he’d written to the Baroness calling on the Taskforce to take steps to relieve the pressure on Putney High Street, Putney Bridge and Wandsworth Bridge, which have all taken the brunt of the additional spillover traffic since Hammersmith Bridge’s closure in April 2019

In his letter Cllr Govindia said: “I very much welcome the setting up of the Taskforce and am grateful to you for taking the lead on pursuing the delivery of the desperately needed works to Hammersmith Bridge.

“The residents and businesses of Wandsworth continue to suffer intolerable delays as a result of its closure and the considerable traffic pressure particularly on the network of roads leading to Putney and Wandsworth Bridges.”

Referring to reports that the Taskforce was considering the construction of a temporary foot and cycle bridge at Hammersmith, but not a road crossing Cllr Govindia added:

“Whilst I do not doubt that temporary foot/cycle solutions will provide some relief at our bridges, I very much doubt that the numbers, they will carry and attract, will be anywhere near significant enough to prevent a continuing problem for the residents and businesses of Wandsworth, and indeed the many schoolchildren who cross the river as well.

“This comes at a bad time of course, given our desire to support the continued opening of schools and to do all we can to aid economic recovery through the pandemic.

“It would be good to hear your thoughts on these matters and whether or not there is in fact more focus on an early road traffic solution than would at first appear to be the case.”

In her reply the minister acknowledged “the difficulties people are experiencing following the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, adding:

“Local residents are rightly angry at the situation which needs be resolved as soon as possible, with clear leadership to determine how to proceed. As you mention, that is why I am chairing the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce, to bring together a range of interested stakeholders to get the bridge and the river reopened as soon as possible for Londoners and offer the leadership that has prevented progress to date.

“The Department is continuing to work with local groups and stakeholders, to consider all the options available to help deliver an immediate solution – including any temporary measures that can be brought in to help reduce traffic in surrounding areas.

“The Taskforce has not ruled out other potential temporary solutions, including proposals for a temporary bridge as we work through plans to stabilise the Bridge and ultimately return it to full use.

“We are committed to exploring any other feasible options that will alleviate the impact of the Bridge’s closure on neighbouring areas.

Following the exchange of letters Cllr Govindia said: “I’m pleased that the minister has expressed her commitment to exploring the option of a temporary road crossing and that she not only recognises the frustration of our residents but also the undeniable lack of local leadership that has afflicted this project for the past 18 months.

“We are no nearer having this important river crossing reopened than we were back in April of last year, so I’m relieved that the Taskforce has been set up and that we can now look forward to getting to grips with a situation that has frankly already dragged on for far too long.

“And while we recognise the difficult challenges and complexities involved in building a temporary road crossing we are heartened to learn that it is something the minister has committed to exploring in order to bring relief to our residents and businesses.”

Hammersmith Bridge was closed indefinitely without warning on April 10, 2019. There is no timetable in place for its reopening.

The current closure is just the latest in a series that have affected Hammersmith bridge over the past two decades.

The bridge was closed in 2014, 2016 and twice in both 2017 and 2018. It was also closed for more than a year between February 1997 and July 1998. It is the only bridge that neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham Council is responsible for maintaining.