Hammersmith Bridge repairs
Hammersmith Bridge is scheduled for a full refurbishment in late 2018 that will mean it is closed to traffic for at least 12 months.
We understand that every time the bridge is closed it causes frustration and we’re sorry. We’d love the refurbishment to be a fast, simple process, but with a bridge this old, this complex and this important we’ve got to make sure we get these repairs right.
- Up to February 2017 – Regular monitoring and preliminary assessments
- February and October 2017 – Interim repair works (week-long full closures)
- Christmas 2017 to spring 2018 – Detailed surveying (some closures/part-closures)
- Late 2018 (dates TBC) – Start of full refurbishment (long-term full closure)
What work has been done?
Last year, the bridge had two week-long closures for repairs to the decking surface. This work was to keep it in use until the forthcoming full refurbishment. There are 999 panels on the road surface, so to minimise closures we replaced them in batches when they failed, rather than all at once – replacing just one panel can take up to six hours!
Since Christmas 2017 our specialist consultants have been performing exhaustive examinations of the bridge to assess in fine detail what work will be required for the full refurbishment.
This investigation work requires the bridge to be closed to be done safely and includes installation of sensors high up, examining the metal components and investigating how the bridge handles different loads.
There are several short closures planned for early 2018 so this work can take place.
Hammersmith Bridge was built in 1887 and is one of the most loved and most photographed Thames crossings. It is a Grade II* listed structure.
It has a very high traffic volume for its age, with more than 20,000 vehicles crossing it every day. It was never designed to carry this volume and weight of traffic and the constant vibration from those vehicles damages the bridge and road surface.
The iconic bridge currently has a 7.5 tonne weight restriction, with priority for single decker buses and emergency vehicles.
While the bridge has been refurbished in the past, major intervention is necessary to ensure the bridge is fit for purpose in the future.
It is now time for the bridge to have a full refurbishment. This will include strengthening work and a full resurfacing that will last for many years.
Major repair works to the bridge are expected to start in late 2018.
The precise scope of the works is currently being assessed by our specialist contractors. Exact timescales and costs for the refurbishment will be confirmed once this assessment work has been completed.
The refurbishment work will include overall strengthening of the structure and an improved road surface, benefitting motorists and cyclists.
Ahead of this work, two week-long sets of interim repairs were completed in February and October 2017. We hope these repairs will keep the bridge operational until the full refurbishment works start. The works included replacing 240 of the bridge's 999 deck and road surface panels.
The bridge has an old, complex structure, caters for high volumes of traffic, and has been in need of urgent repair for some time.
This means it is possible that further emergency repairs may be required between now and the full refurbishment.
Who's responsible for the bridge?
While the bridge and road surface is owned and maintained day to day by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, TfL is responsible for managing daily bus services across the bridge.
We are working in close partnership with TfL and Richmond Council to develop and deliver the repair works with the minimum possible disruption for residents and passengers.
Video: Using a giant spanner to remove a bolt from Hammersmith Bridge
Frequently asked questions
- How long will the full refurbishment take?
We don’t have an exact timescale for the works, but it is likely to last many months, because of the age and complex structure of the bridge.
For example, the decking surface comprises 999 metal panels. Just one of these takes six hours to replace. The panels fail at different rates, and in different areas, so it's impossible to predict when they will need replacing. The bridge also includes 172 huge bolts, all of which will need inspecting and some may need replacing.
There are only two bridges like this in the world, the other spans the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. Because of this, both parts and tools often have to be custom made (see spanner video above), which can be costly and take a long time to produce.
- Will the restriction on buses remain until the full refurbishment?
Yes. We apologise for the restriction and understand this causes frustration for passengers.
The weight limit is unavoidable for safety reasons and to prolong the lifespan of the bridge.The restriction has been in place for many years but it is being enforced rigorously now to ensure damage to the bridge is kept to a minimum.
- Why has it taken so long to get to this point?
We have undertaken several in-depth surveys of the bridge structure. These investigations helped inform exactly what work needed to be done for the two sets of interim repairs in 2017. Further investigations will help us understand exactly what works needs to be done for the full refurbishment.
We will continue to monitor the bridge from the interim repairs until the full refurbishment starts.
- Why can't the repairs be done at night?
The technical nature of the repairs means most of the work requires daylight.
- Can the repairs be done in instalments?
We understand the closure is disruptive for both local residents and commuters. The scale and duration of the works means it makes more sense to do it all in one go.
- Would it not be easier to build a new bridge?
Building a new bridge would be far more expensive and disruptive than repairing Hammersmith Bridge.
Enquiries and further information
For any enquiries, please contact H&F Council’s transport team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information please see the TfL website - www.tfl.gov.uk/hammersmith-bridge.
For enquiries relating to bus services, please contact TfL at email@example.com.