Hammersmith Bridge is a major traffic artery for thousands of Londoners. A couple of weeks ago it closed indefinitely, without prior notice. The bridge is owned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council. TfL is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.
H&F Council is a Labour Authority and the Mayor of London is a Labour Mayor. Not wanting to criticise each other, look at the buck-passing that goes on. Click here to see LBHF’s statement on the closure.
A major cause of the damage is high bus usage. LBHF say “In 2015 we secured an agreement that there would never be more than one bus going either way at any one time. However, the bus companies consistently breached that agreement, ignoring our engineers’ warnings that this would cause a critical structural failure”. How were the bus companies meant to keep to this agreement? Have drivers semaphore from opposite ends of the bridge? If this was a critical issue, it was up to LBHF to find a way to enforce it. Which they openly admit they didn’t do!
The cost of repairing Hammersmith Bridge has risen to at least £40 million. About TfL’s failure to make adequate repairs and to stump up the cash, LBHF say “We are sympathetic to TfL’s funding problems”. Effectively “please don’t blame them”.
LBHF continues “TfL has suffered an £800million cut to its budget and has had to pay for the refurbishment of Albert Bridge and Putney Bridge in recent years.” Did TfL not realise that it was responsible for the Albert and Putney Bridges? Should Londoners send TfL some emails outlining what other bridges is it is responsible for in case they haven’t realised?
“Meanwhile, over £43million was wasted on the failed Garden Bridge folly.” I am sorry – but not relevant. TfL accountants are monitoring and managing costs and risks over a whole variety of projects at all times.
LBHF’s entire statement is effectively “It’s not our fault and please don’t blame TfL either”. Well then who? Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? If you don’t want to take responsibility for managing vital infrastructure, you shouldn’t be in power.
If bus companies breached the “one bus rule” what was the point of having those two people in yellow jackets stationed at each end of the bridge all day for 365 days of the year ? They were supposed to prevent it weren’t they ? How much did that cost and why didn’t it work ?
A n empty Routemaster bus weighs 121/2 tonnes. With a full passenger load it weighs 18 tonnes. A large panel van weighs 2 tonnes empty, with a gross combination weight of 5 tonnes. They are frequently overloaded. and are far more numerous than buses. Did anyone do any serious calculations on how much weight the bridge could safely take without damage, It seems highly unlikely. So perhaps here lies the real culprit.