Multi-million pound revamp of Wandsworth Bridge continuing apace

Published: Thursday, November 12, 2020

The first phase of the multi-million-pound refurbishment of Wandsworth Bridge will conclude tomorrow (Friday).

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Wandsworth Bridge -'painted blue to camouflage it from enemy air attack'

This initial set of works to the upper surfaces of the 80-year-old river crossing has been achieved around two weeks ahead of the revised schedule and means attention can now turn to the structure’s underside – which will see reduced disruption for the travelling public.

Throughout this initial phase of the £6m project, traffic flows across the bridge have been maintained in both directions but restricted to single lanes, while pedestrian and cycle access has remained unaffected.

All four traffic lanes will remain open for the next three weeks until one is likely to close to reduce vehicle capacity and avoid overloading the bridge due to the added weight of scaffolding that will need to be installed as the refurbishment continues. This will also allow for carriageway cycle facilities to be introduced so that there is sufficient room for pedestrians to safely use the scaffolding-reduced footpaths.

The overall programme of works includes structural repairs, carriageway resurfacing, waterproofing and corrosion protection. The bridge will also be repainted to improve its appearance and protect its steel structure.

Eco-friendly low energy LED floodlights will be installed underneath its arches so they can be lit at night – making it more of a landmark feature of the river in a similar scheme to the one recently carried out upstream at Putney Bridge – and a common feature on many other Thames crossings. The heritage style lamposts on the bridge surface will also be refurbished so they can be fitted with long-life and low-energy LED bulbs

Around 40,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. Before the lockdown took effect, this number had significantly increased after Hammersmith Bridge was suddenly closed without warning in April of last year.

Funding for the revamp is coming from the strategic community infrastructure levy (SCIL) which is money levied by the council on property developers in the borough to help pay for important infrastructure projects.

The first river crossing here was built in 1873 but demolished in 1937 and reopened in its current guise in 1940. According to some reports it was painted in light shades of blue as camouflage against Luftwaffe air raids.

Transport spokesman Cllr John Locker said the council took its bridge management and maintenance responsibilities seriously which is why the town hall had set aside sufficient funds to carry out the scheme.

He added: “It’s really important that councils in London look after their Thames bridges properly and make sure they set aside sufficient funds to do the job. The traveling public and business community expect nothing less.

“I’m therefore delighted that this important infrastructure project is continuing to make good progress and that attention is now turning to the internal fabric of the bridge so that it remains safe and in full working order for many years to come.”