Hammersmith Bridge: Ferry service proposed to temporarily replace crossing

1 October 2020, 18:08 | Updated: 1 October 2020, 18:09

A ferry service will be used to temporarily replace the troublesome crossing
A ferry service will be used to temporarily replace the troublesome crossing. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A ferry service has been proposed to temporarily replace Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed to vehicles for 18 months.

The suggestion was made on Thursday following the third meeting of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce which was established last month by the Department for Transport.

It comes after scorching temperatures during this summer's heatwave caused the faults in the crossing to "significantly increase".

This led to the bridge being closed to all users, including pedestrians and cyclists, while boats were banned from sailing underneath it. It was closed to motor traffic in April 2019 due to structural problems - such as cracks in the structure's pedestals.

Dana Skelley, speaking on behalf of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce group, said a ferry service would be in place "by early next year" while a temporary bridge is also being considered.

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Read more: Hammersmith Bridge fully closed following heatwave

"The taskforce has made significant progress on the next steps for the Hammersmith Bridge," she said.

"In particular, the taskforce agreed a ferry service across the river would be the preferred transport solution to deliver a crossing for residents in the short-term and we are working quickly to have a service in place by early next year.

"All other potential solutions, including a temporary bridge, remain under consideration to ensure the fastest possible resolution for those impacted by the closure of the bridge."

She confirmed that Transport for London (TfL) would keep the enhanced local bus services under review to respond to changing demands.

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Cambridge professor and mechanics and materials expert, Norman Fleck, has also been added to the taskforce to help find a long-term solution for the crossing over the Thames.

"Work will now continue to urgently progress the temporary transport plans, and other work related to the bridge and river closure, with the taskforce due to reconvene next week where funding options will be discussed," Ms Skelley added.

Thursday's meeting was attended by representatives from the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond upon Thames, the Greater London Authority, TfL, the Port of London Authority, Ms Skelley and Baroness Vere who chairs the taskforce.

Network Rail also has a seat in the group.