The former Transport for London (TFL) Olympics mastermind, Dana Skelley, has been appointed by the Government to lead a Taskforce  to evaluate the repairs needed to Hammersmith Bridge. At potentially more than £160m to complete the full repairs and it would take £40m just to just stabilise the bridge, it is not surprising a Taskforce has been established to look at options. 

The Taskforce, to be chaired by roads minister Baroness Vere, includes the leaders of Hammersmith & Fulham and Richmond councils as well as senior representatives from TfL, Network Rail, the Greater London Authority and the Port of London Authority.

In the short term, Hammersmith and Fulham council have proposed a temporary ferry to alleviate the distress caused to local residents. Several companies have put forward proposals to the Port of London Authority, TFL and the two councils.

The request for cash as an “oven ready” project was turned by the Government causing this response from the Greater London Authority(GLA):

“This Assembly notes that despite not being Transport for London’s (TfL) responsibility, the Mayor has committed £25 million towards the investigation of the faults and the design costs for the restoration of the bridge and has been working with Hammersmith and Fulham council to progress the installation of a temporary bridge.

Together with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, TfL submitted a bid to the government for the additional funding required, which was rejected. This Assembly also notes that London does not receive its fair share of road maintenance funding, with the approximate £500 million of Vehicle Excise Duty revenue raised in the capital, funding road maintenance outside of the city.

This Assembly welcomes that the Government are finally taking this issue seriously and are setting up a taskforce, working with TfL and Hammersmith and Fulham council to develop a solution for the bridge. Given that details are currently unclear with regards to funding the repairs required and for a temporary bridge, this Assembly calls on the Chair of the Assembly to write urgently to the Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport and ask him to immediately provide the funds needed to ensure the future safety of Hammersmith Bridge and to erect a temporary pedestrian and cycle bridge forthwith.

Furthermore, the Assembly reinstates its support for the London Finance Commission’s recommendation to allocate London’s share of Vehicle Excise Duty revenue to TfL to invest in maintaining the capital’s road network, and urges the Secretary of State to revisit the decision taken to remove this funding from London.”

The leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council , Stephen Cowan, has said in a letter to residents,

“I am very sorry about the disruption this is causing, working with Transport for London, Richmond Council, the Port of London Authority and local entrepreneurs, we are considering several options for a ferry service.

“There are practical challenges to overcome with this, including the low tides and lack of suitable piers infrastructure, but if we can do this we will. We have also asked TfL to put on extra bus routes.”

Specialist engineers working with H&F and TfL have put together ‘shovel ready’ plans to fix the Grade II listed bridge and return it to its Victorian splendour. But those could take three to four years.

Cllr Cowan added: “It will cost £46million to stabilise it, which will make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic. That work can be completed within nine months. It will cost up to £141million to fully restore the bridge so it can be reopened to buses and motor vehicles – a similar amount to building a new bridge. There’s a quicker option to fully restore Hammersmith Bridge but that would cost £163million.

“A temporary bridge suitable for pedestrians and cyclists would cost £27.3million. That would also take nine months to build but it wouldn’t solve the problems for river traffic. It costs £2.7million a year simply to stop additional and dangerous deterioration.

“I’ve twice written to the Prime Minister seeking the government’s urgent constructive engagement and financial support. In response, on 9 September the government announced a Taskforce to review the engineers’ plans – which I’ll take part in. I welcome any indication that the government will now work with us on this but have stressed to ministers the need for immediate government action.”

The emotive tale of an iconic landmark and essential route through West London rolls on leaving many sections of the London community suffering from the immense disruption.

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