Two skilled stories mentioned Hammersmith and Fulham council adopted a “conservative” method to assessing the security of the 133-year-old bridge when deciding to shut it to automobiles in April final 12 months after which to walkers and cyclists this August.
One skilled commissioned by the Division for Transport mentioned it was “unlikely” the bridge would undergo a whole collapse.
Consequently, the council was urged on Thursday to “look once more” at partially reopening the bridge early subsequent 12 months and permitting river site visitors to move beneath.
Nonetheless plans to launch a ferry service from round Easter are persevering with in case the injury to the bridge’s forged iron construction is worse than feared, or within the occasion it needs to be closed once more at brief discover.
Transport minister Baroness Vere, who has been chairing a taskforce to get the bridge reopened, mentioned: “At the moment’s stories set out that there’s probably a path to Hammersmith bridge being re-opened on a restricted foundation with out main works, which is one thing I do know individuals within the space will welcome.
“I’m due to this fact calling on Hammersmith and Fulham council to significantly contemplate these stories so we will do proper by individuals who have been blighted by this bridge’s closure. Transferring ahead, we stay dedicated to discovering a funding answer for the bridge’s full restore and reopening to vehicular site visitors.”
Full restore of the bridge, which is owned by the council, is estimated at £141m, with it taking as much as seven years earlier than it may reopen to motor site visitors. Full repairs haven’t began because of ongoing rows between the council, Authorities and Transport for London over funding.
The DfT requested engineering consultants Aecom and Professor Norman Fleck of Cambridge College – an skilled in fracture mechanics – to overview earlier modelling by Mott MacDonald utilized by the council to shut the bridge.
The bridge was absolutely closed in August after a crack within the north-east pedestal widened by 8cm to 24cm. However the brand new stories say this was unlikely to have been attributable to the summer season heatwave, as feared on the time, and that the crack could also be “fairly shallow”.
The consultants say that it might be potential to reopen the bridge as soon as the 2 western pedestals are “blast-cleaned” to examine for any proof of cracks and as soon as further monitoring tools is fitted.
Data of the bridge’s situation is alleged to have “improved significantly” since March, when the council’s most up-to-date danger evaluation was ready.
The Aecom report mentioned the expansion within the crack within the north-east pedestal between April and August “could not essentially be linked with the excessive temperatures seen in August” and recommends “that the precise supply of the occasion, and the depth of this crack must be investigated because it appears doubtless that the crack is sort of shallow”.
Professor Fleck mentioned a “small sum of cash” would permit for “instant remedial motion to be taken, no matter longer-term plans for the restore and strengthening the bridge”.
He added: “Within the brief time period, it might be potential to reopen the bridge rapidly and cheaply for pedestrian site visitors supplied measures are taken to stabilise the forged iron pedestals.”
He mentioned this could possibly be performed “immediately, on a timeframe of weeks, and at modest price”.
Tony Devenish, Conservative London Meeting member for West Central, mentioned: “Hammersmith and Fulham’s Labour council should hearken to this new skilled recommendation and provides themselves one of the best likelihood to reopen the bridge to cyclists and pedestrians rapidly. Londoners can’t afford anymore dither and delay from the council. They need to get this very important crossing open.
“Whereas reopening Hammersmith bridge to pedestrians and cyclists can be a giant step ahead, the council cannot neglect the large disruption its closure to automobiles has precipitated.
“Londoners cannot wait greater than six years for repairs to permit buses, emergency automobiles and site visitors to cross the Thames between Hammersmith and Barnes. The council should additionally critically contemplate, and assist fund, a brief street bridge.”