In Brief

Hammersmith Bridge closed ‘indefinitely’

Council shuts historic Thames crossing to all vehicles after finding ‘critical faults’ in structure

London’s Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to motorists “indefinitely” and without warning after safety checks revealed “critical faults”.

The sudden shutting of the iconic bridge over the River Thames  on Thursday morning has caused major travel disruptions, with the drivers of the more than 20,000 vehicles that usually cross it each day forced to find other routes.

In a statement explaining the closure, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: “We’ve had to urgently close Hammersmith Bridge to motorists because of safety concerns. Our weekly safety checks have revealed critical faults and we have no choice but to shut the bridge. We’re sorry we couldn’t give you more warning.”

According to the London Evening Standard, pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge but it will be closed to all vehicles until further notice, including buses.

Bus routes 33, 72, 209, 419, 485 and 609 will all be affected by the bridge’s closure.

The council said that a “fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge” had been hamstrung by budget cuts, and that Transport for London’s (TfL) announcement that it could not afford to fund the project was a “huge disappointment”.

“Regrettably, we’ve now been left with no option but to close the bridge indefinitely until the refurbishment costs can be met,” the council statement continued. “So we’re supporting TfL’s call for the Government to invest in this vital river crossing and national monument – so we can get on with the work and reopen the bridge.”

The “beleaguered Grade II bridge” has “long been in need of strengthening, and has had severe speed and weight restrictions in place while a longer term major refurbishment plan was sought”, according to New Civil Engineer.

Much of the structure is original, with the cross girders, the majority of the hangers and the suspension chains all dating back to 1887, the industry news site says. The foundations for the bridge were built for a previous bridge on the same site and date back to 1827. 

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