Plans have been shown off that could reopen the Hammersmith Bridge, by slotting in a temporary double-decker road inside the existing structure.
Developed by the engineers COWI and architects, Foster + Partners, the idea would be to get the closed bridge open again for traffic, while supporting the bridge during renovation works.
The lower deck would be for pedestrians and cyclists, while an upper deck may be able to carry cars, although that’s not confirmed at the moment. The proposals would also need long approach ramps for the motor vehicles to be able to rise up from street level to the upper deck. The argument for putting the road vehicles above seems to be so that the pedestrian area can also be reused in sections for the bridge repair works to be carried out.
There would be no load added to the existing bridge deck which could then be removed in stages and taken away for repair. They suggest that removal and repair is quicker and cheaper than trying to repair broken parts on site.
Initial estimates suggest the temporary crossing would allow the strengthening and stabilisation works to the bridge to be completed at a cost lower than the current £141million estimate.
The plans were presented by the council and developers to Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce which met last week.
The unsolved issue is who pays for the repairs. The bridge is owned by the local councils, not TfL or the government, but the repair bill is beyond what most councils could afford at the moment.
In the meantime, they are pushing ahead with plans for a temporary ferry to restore pedestrian and cyclist access across the Thames. The owner of a nearby pier at Harrods Wharf has offered it free of charge to the council to use for a ferry service.