By Allan Fuller
With Hammersmith being closed to traffic for over 4 years we now have the nightmare of Wandsworth Bridge being closed for vital repairs for 10 weeks. Fortunately it is coinciding with school holidays and a time of year of less traffic, but it is bound to increase the massive amount of traffic already using Putney High Street.
The work has been timed to take place mainly during the school summer holidays when traffic levels are lighter but significant problems are anticipated with the ongoing closure of Hammersmith Bridge exacerbating the situation.
The council says that the works are necessary to replace some of the structure’s crucial weight bearing elements and ensure the bridge remains safe for traffic and that if these repairs are not undertaken it could result in longer-term closures and other restrictions.
A major part of the scheme will involve hydraulically lifting the bridge structure so that the internal weight bearing parts can be replaced. In order to achieve this safely and without damaging the bridge structure, the road surface needs to be removed in order to lighten the load.
Once the load bearing parts have been replaced the bridge deck will be waterproofed to prevent future internal corrosion, to be followed by full carriageway resurfacing.
While the repairs are being carried out the bridge will remain open for pedestrians crossing the river and also for cyclists but the limited space that’s available means they will need to dismount and wheel their bikes across.
There will be temporary changes to bus services that normally cross the bridge once the closure is in place. These details have yet to be confirmed by Transport for London and the bus operators. Motorists will be directed to other river crossings, while some are likely to switch to public transport.
Checks on the bridge revealed damage that needed immediate repair
The council says it has already sent out advance warning letters to 24,000 households on both sides of the river and a further letter will be dispatched to a wider distribution area in the coming days. Warning signs will be placed on lampposts on all approaches in Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham, while digital warning signs will also be used to alert motorists throughout the wider area.
Information about the closure will also be provided to the public via the council’s social media channels and e-newsletters. Posters are also set to be placed on bus stops in the area to inform passengers about changes to their routes.
Jenny Yates, Wandsworth’s Cabinet Member for Transport said: “A repair project on this scale to an important river crossing means some degree of disruption is unavoidable, and we are sorry for the inconvenience it will cause, but we are working hard to keep this to the absolute minimum. We have also ensured that throughout the works the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and people who ride bicycles.
“We are giving people as much advance warning as we can ahead of next month’s closure so they can plan alternative routes or look at using other forms of transport to cross the river.”
“The key message here is that the works are essential to protect the bridge and ensure it remains safe to use. Our primary objective is to complete this vital job as efficiently and as quickly as possible so there is the least amount of disruption possible to residents.”