The Government has announced it will pay its one-third share of the stabilisation project for Hammersmith Bridge, totalling £3m.
The stabilisation works will ensure the bridge stays open to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic and will secure the bridge ahead of its full restoration.
Ministers confirmed funding after Hammersmith & Fulham Council committed £8.8m to the stabilisation programme.
The 135-year bridge was closed to motorists in April 2019 and to all traffic in August 2020 after fractures in the cast-iron pedestals rendered the bridge dangerously unsafe.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today, I’m giving Londoners reassurance this Government will do everything in its power to keep this vital, historic structure open.
“We’re investing millions into its restoration, ensuring local residents can continue to cross the river by foot or bike, and I look forward to working further with the local council on future works to reopen the bridge to motorists.”
The restoration plan to fully reopen the bridge is not yet confirmed as neither Hammersmith & Fulham Council nor Transport for London (TfL) can afford the estimated £141m reparation costs.
The bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists in July 2021 but its continued closure to motorists has caused major disruption to transport in south west London.
Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Oleny for Richmond Park said: “After years of delay and inactivity, any progress is of course welcome.
“However, the government’s attempt to rewrite its own involvement in the bridge’s reopening is incredibly disappointing.
“As my constituents know only too well, the government’s efforts to reopen the bridge have been far below the mark and any attempt to gloss over that does the people of south west London a great disservice.”
The stabilisation project is expected to last nine months and will see the pedestals filled with concrete and steel frames around them.
Fleur Anderson, Labour MP for Putney and Roehampton reacted to the latest Government announcement in a statement.
She said: “Everyone in Putney will be as bitterly disappointed as I am by this announcement today.
“The Hammersmith Bridge Task Force was set up two years ago and there is still no sign of the forceful, urgent action needed. Restoring Hammersmith Bridge to its “former glory” would surely mean vehicles could cross the bridge again.
“The Government is now trying to claim credit for turning up late with a paltry amount just for stabilisation instead of restoration.”
The announcement comes ahead of the London council elections in May.
The closure of the bridge remains a major issue for voters in the areas around Hammersmith Bridge.
Featured image credit: George rex on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license