Bridge Taskforce announces river crossing as preferred short term solution
Low tides at Hammersmith Bridge challenge for ferry project
Ferries to help school children and key workers cross the Thames beside Hammersmith Bridge will be in place “early next year”.
The Task Force set up to manage the restoration of Hammersmith Bridge made the announcement this Thursday (October 1) after holding its third meeting.
The new timeline comes after Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan said on September 18 that the council had set itself an “ambitious target of the end of October” to get the ferries up and running.
The Task Force is chaired by Transport Minister Baroness Vere, and includes Mr Cowan, the leader of Richmond Council, and officials from TfL and the Department for Transport.
The 133-year-old bridge closed to pedestrians and cyclists in August, after cracks in its north-east pedestal, made of cast iron, grew wider during the hot weather.
Parents from Barnes and Hammersmith, whose children attend schools on the opposite side of the Thames, have expressed desperation about their school runs now taking two hours by bus or car.
Yesterday’s announcement reads: “The Task Force has made significant progress on the next steps for the Hammersmith Bridge. In particular, the Task Force agreed a ferry service across the river would be the preferred transport solution to deliver a crossing for residents in the short-term, and we are working quickly to have a service in place by early next year.
“All other potential solutions, including a temporary bridge, remain under consideration to ensure the fastest possible resolution for those impacted by the closure of the bridge. TfL also continues to keep the enhanced local bus services under review to respond to changing demands.
“Work will now continue to urgently progress the temporary transport plans, and other work related to the bridge and river closure, with the Task Force due to reconvene next week where funding options will be discussed.”
At a council meeting on September 16, Hammersmith and Fulham’s chief officer for public realm, Bram Kainth, said “landing points” with pontoons and temporary structures will need to be created, in order to provide a ferry crossing.
He explained that planning permission and consent from the Environment Agency and Port of London Authority will be needed, as well as from parties who own land on the river banks.
It has yet to be decided whether the ferries would charge passengers or be free to use, and whether they would be restricted to school children, key workers or disabled people, Mr Kainth said.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
October 2, 2020