A feasibility study into the possibility of replacing Hammersmith’s ugly concrete flyover with a ‘flyunder’ has started in earnest it was revealed today.
The feasibility study aims to show how a flyunder might be paid for, possibly by releasing highway land for development, as well as looking into how a tunnel would best improve traffic flow; reconnect the town centre with the river and improve air quality.
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council, which is leading the study, says it expects to report back with its findings by March 2014. Since its emergency closure in 2011, which caused traffic gridlock across west London, serious questions have been asked about the long-term viability of the 50 year old Hammersmith flyover given the cost of maintenance and increased risk of failure.
Transport for London (TfL) awarded a £60million contract to strengthen the flyover in June and engineering firm Costain is expected to start the repairs later this year. H&F Council Leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill, has said that this needs to be the last time TfL spends such a large amount of money on the ageing structure. He said: “A tunnel replacement would dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands of west Londoners and, while the council recognises that in the short term TfL needs to prolong its life just a little bit longer, in the medium term a flyunder would be a game changer for Hammersmith.
“A flyunder would reconnect our divided town centre with the river, improving Hammersmith as a place to live and do business, while improving traffic flows and air quality. This is why we have started a feasibility study to dig a little deeper into the various options and work out how the significant benefits that a tunnel would bring could be paid for.”
An independent technical study to test ground conditions will be commissioned by the council later in the year and a Get Moving transport summit to discuss ideas for replacing the flyover is set to be organised later in the autumn.
Arun Sondhi from Hammersmith Bid, the organisation which represents businesses in Hammersmith town centre, said: “Hammersmith is currently experiencing a wave of investment as developers recognise that the town is emerging as a serious competitor in the leisure and retail sector. People keep forgetting that Hammersmith has a river because the flyover splits the town in two; it is a relic from a bygone age. Building a tunnel presents an opportunity to enhance the town’s potential and revolutionise the area by opening up land for public and commercial use.”