Government budget cuts are being blamed after a number of critical faults were found within the structure of Hammersmith Bridge.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council have blamed the Government after it was revealed that Transport for London cannot afford to do vital repairs to the bridge because of central government budget cuts.
As a result, the bridge is to be closed indefinitely to vehicular traffic.
In a statement on Hammersmith and Fulham Council's website, they 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."
The statement went on to say: "We have a fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge and we’re ready to start work. But, due to government budget cuts, Transport for London (TfL) says it can no longer fund the planned refurbishment. This is 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. 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." “Hundreds of daily journeys by heavy buses cause regular distress to the bridge. That’s why we agreed with TfL in 2015 that they would only run one bus in each direction at one time, while we developed a longer-term strengthening plan. But this damage has now reached a critical point.
Closing the bridge is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we know it will inconvenience many people. We’re sorry for that disruption, but we must put the safety of the public first.”
The closure is expected to cause major traffic chaos, with cars taxis and buses all forced to follow diversions until further notice. Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge.
Opened in 1887, the Grade II listed suspension bridge is no stranger to closures, with the latest being a raft of emergency repairs last summer.
Image Source: Flickr
Image Author: George Rex