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Structural defects undetected despite millions spent on Hammersmith Bridge maintenance

8 Jul 2019

 

Despite millions of pounds of taxypayers' money being spent on maintaining Hammersmith Bridge, the severe structural defects that have forced its closure went undetected.


The bridge, which was closed to vehicular traffic in April, may take three years to repair as engineers look to fix microfractures in its cast iron base. 

There has been criticism and accusations coming from all quarters as to how the bridge was allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair, with Conservative and Labour representatives attacking each other over the issue.

 

It is believed that TfL have spent £5.3m on bridge maintenance between 2015 and 2019, according to Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan. 

 

The Wandsworth Guardian reported that information procured via freedom of information (FOI) requests, show that this figure included £1.65mn spent on minor repairs by TfL, as well as £2.61mn spent on inspections, assessments, monitoring and surveying. £900,000 was also spent on hiring wardens to marshal the bridge, ensuring only two buses crossed the bridge at one time because of issues surrounding vehicle weight. 

 

It was revealed by the council that bus companies continually breached the bridge's weight restrictions.


Other information revealed by the FOI requests showed that a major repair initiative was due to be carried out on the bridge in 2016. However, those works, which included replacing corroding bolts, resurfacing, and repainting were never carried out.

 

TfL have denied that the £5.3 million had not been a proper use of public money, stating that decisions to carry out repairs are taken by the council. 


A town hall meeting in June led to questions being asked as to why the bridge hadn't been repaired sooner.

 

However it was explained that the issues which have forced the bridge's closure came as a complete surprise.

 

Microfractures in cast iron can cause a structure to shatter, as a result the bridge had to be closed with immediate effect.

 

The council has promised to return the bridge “to full working order” and reopen it to traffic, with checks by engineers due to be completed by September. 

 

A cost estimation in April revealed that the works could cost around £40m.

 

Image Source: Pixabay 

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