Jill is a practised culture & current affairs writer, editor and soon to be NCTJ-qualified journalist.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council (LBHF) are introducing plans for drivers to foot £3 when crossing West London’s Hammersmith Bridge. The motorist charge will pay for the repairs to the bridge, which is set to reopen by autumn 2022. It will be the first toll in London for over 150 years.
The charge will be administered by automatic number plate recognition cameras. The toll has been brought about as a potential solution to the cost and longevity of bridge repairs.
LBHF have said that their bridge second deck alternative would be £40m cheaper than the £141m repair plan. And instead of a 2027 completion date, the “double deck” solution could allow pedestrians and cyclists access to the bridge by summer 2022, followed by vehicles months later in autumn.
Experts deemed a second deck on Hammersmith Bridge as “feasible” whilst repairs took place. The temporary deck comes from council proposals unveiled last November and follows a six-week technical study from architects and engineers, Foster + Partners alongside bridge engineers, COWI.
A statement from the council said: “The level of government support would also dictate the toll or charge, with significant funding potentially reducing the toll.”
The £3 journey fee could encourage drivers to continue using Putney, Wandsworth and Chiswick bridges since Hammersmith Bridge has been closed for nearly two years for vehicles and almost one for pedestrians. The closure came about when cracks were found in the 133-year-old grade two listed landmark’s pedestals which left it at risk of collapsing.
Last year, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps suggested that LBHF pay £65m of the previous £141m repair plan. The council had said it would be impossible for a local authority to afford this investment.
On Friday 19 March, LBHF council leader, Stephen Cowan, said: “Hammersmith Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world and the most expensive in Britain to repair.
“So, while we’re working to fully restore the bridge as quickly as possible, we’re also determined to put in place the necessary governance and long-term finding arrangements that will make sure it is properly maintained well into the next century.”
He added: “We are proposing a twin-track solution which reunites maintenance funding with transport use and puts the bridge into a charitable trust, similar to the Bridge House Trust that cares for five of London’s most historic bridges.”
Under the new plan, LBHF would relinquish ownership of Hammersmith Bridge to a charitable trust, modelled on the City of London Corporation’s Bridge House Estates that run Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and Millennium Bridge.