Hammersmith Bridge will be completely closed for this month’s boat race due to increasing safety concerns.
The police have requested Hammersmith and Fulham council to close the bridge from midnight till 5pm for the boat race on March 29, because of fears regarding the structural integrity of the bridge.
A Hammersmith and Fulham council spokesperson said: “It is completely inappropriate and unsafe to put thousands of people on the bridge.
“The bridge could be shut any day, any second depending if we find something that worries us.”
Every year up to 270,000 people gather on the banks of the Thames to watch the boat race, with Hammersmith Bridge at the approximate midpoint of the annual contest, a favourite viewing platform for all.
The history of the bridge and the boat race are intertwined. The Championship Course on the river tideway from Putney to Mortlake has been used since 1845.
This means for the first time in more than 150 years spectators will not be able to enjoy the historical sporting event from the iconic course landmark.
Last year’s boat race took place just three days before the bridge was sealed off to traffic following the discovery of micro-fractures and corrosion in points where the suspension chains are held in place.
Since then congestion chaos in the surrounding area has ensued.
MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said: “Residents are unable to get to their hospital appointments, they face much longer journeys to work, and you just need to come to Barnes, East Sheen and Mortlake to see the appalling congestion.
“Local businesses are telling me that they are suffering reduced takings as a result of the closure of the bridge.”
One year since the closure there is now a plan for Hammersmith bridge, but no re-opening date has been set .
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at the London Assembly last night said: “Transport for London has been working with Hammersmith and Fulham council to finalise the design work and has already committed £25m toward its restoration.
“Plans for a temporary foot and cycle bridge are already underway.”
Transport for London and the council have recently submitted a joint funding bid to the government.
Deputy Mayor for Transport, the leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham council and Richmond council are set to meet with Baroness Vere at the Department for Transport to discuss funding sources.
To enable the bridge to be opened as quickly and as safely as possible it is likely it will need to be completely closed for repair works.
It is hoped work on the temporary bridge will begin later this year, should all the necessary consents be granted.
There will be public drop-in sessions where you can find out more:
- Saturday 14 March, 11am to 3pm, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith W6 9BN
- Tuesday 17 March, 6 to 9pm, Castelnau Community Centre, Barnes SW13 9AQ
- Thursday 19 March, 4 to 8pm, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith W6 9BN
- Saturday 21 March, 1 to 5pm, St Michael & All Angels, Barnes SW13 0NX