Published: 06/08/2021 By Allan Fuller
On 28 July, councillors explained if they do not receive more financial support from the Department for Transport and Transport for London they will have to impose a toll. Councillor Max Schmid told a Hammersmith & Fulham financial committee, “If the government absolutely insists that they are not going to fund it we are only left with the option of a toll. “The fact that a civil servant assigned [the bridge] to Hammersmith and Fulham because it has the word ‘Hammersmith’ in it. It’s ridiculous that Hammersmith and Fulham is being asked to pay such a high amount.”
The 134-year-old cast-iron bridge was closed to all users in August 2020 after cracks in its structure worsened during a heat wave. Up until April 2019, Hammersmith Bridge carried 22,000 vehicles a day. The toll would not charge Hammersmith and Fulham residents but visitors would have to pay each time they crossed the bridge. A consultation has now been launched to see how effective a toll would be and whether it would raise enough money.
Bridge owners Hammersmith and Fulham Council have said it could cost up to £163 million to fix the bridge. The cost is likely to be shared between the DfT and TfL but an agreement has yet to be reached with the council on how much it will need to pay. DfT recently suggested the council should pay a third of the costs for the bridge. So far, the council has spent £8.6m on the bridge’s repairs. The authority has now commissioned a study with the transport bodies to find out how much money could be made from the toll.
Hammersmith bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists on 17 July with an air conditioning system to prevent the cast iron from cracking further. The council has also suggested the ownership of the bridge should be transferred into a charitable trust. It had previously been suggested the crossing would not fully re-open until 2027.
Hammersmith and Fulham council leader Stephen Cowan said, “We believe a toll and possibly charitable trust that is dedicated just to looking after this bridge, that keeps it in perpetuity as something to admire but importantly as something to use for hundreds of years to come is the essential way forward.”