A £3 toll for motorists could be introduced on Hammersmith Bridge to help foot the costs of its long-running repair works that are set to spiral to £100million.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has drawn up the ‘radical plans’ to make the bridge operational after almost two years out of action.
An early timetable has scheduled it to reopen to pedestrians and cyclists next summer, followed by vehicles two months later.
Since cracks first appeared in its pedestals, which worsened in the August heatwave, the repair effort has been sluggish and has left locals exasperated at having to find alternative crossings further down the Thames.
A £3 toll for motorists could be introduced on Hammersmith Bridge to help foot the costs of its long-running repair works
The bridge would have a ‘double-decker’ structure, with an upper level carrying cars and buses, while pedestrians and cyclists would use the lower level, the council said
A lack of financing has been a particular issue, with Mayor Sadiq Khan lobbying ministers to front the costs.
The Department for Transport says it ensured £4million of its bailout of TfL was ringfenced for the bridge’s repair works.
The council said ‘early assessments’ indicate motorists would pay an average of £3 to drive across the bridge.
It claimed its plan would help reduce restoration costs to ‘around £100 million’ and allow traffic to use it from the middle of 2022.
The bridge would have a ‘double-decker’ structure, with an upper level carrying cars and buses, while pedestrians and cyclists would use the lower level, the council said.
A technical study conducted jointly by architects Foster + Partners and specialist bridge engineers COWI found it is ‘feasible’ using the existing bridge foundations.
The full restoration would be completed in 2023.
The Labour-run council also said ownership of the Grade II listed bridge could be transferred to a charitable trust.
The 134-year-old west London bridge has become the subject of much wrangling between the council, TfL and the Department for Transport
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.
‘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 funding arrangements that will make sure it is properly maintained well into the next century.
‘We are proposing a twin-track solution which reunites maintenance funding with transport use and puts the bridge into a charitable trust.’
Roger Ridsdill Smith, head of structural engineering at Foster + Partners, said: ‘The feasibility study supports the technical viability of the proposed temporary crossing, showing that it has the potential to be significantly cheaper than a scheme that repairs the bridge in situ.
‘It also offers the possibility of the bridge reopening earlier than previously envisaged.’
The plans will be discussed next week at the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meeting.
Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey opposes the toll, and said if elected he will create a London Infrastructure Bank to pay the costs of the repair.
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