H&F engineering team wins award for bridge safety

The H&F Council team won the Bridges Management Award at the annual Bridges Awards last week.

The world-leading engineering team which created a pioneering temperature control system that enabled Hammersmith Bridge to reopen safely to cyclists and pedestrians last year has won a prestigious industry award.

The Hammersmith & Fulham Council team won the Bridges Management Award at the annual Bridges Awards last week. In the citation, the engineers were praised for their “innovative” work “with great community benefits” in response to dangerous cracks appearing in the1880s cast-iron structure.

The judges said:

Excellent use of a scientific approach and use of structural modelling, particularly the simulation of the historic manufacturing process. A good example of the effective use of testing and monitoring systems - no doubt new techniques have been developed which will be published for use on other bridges. The innovative temperature control system has targeted the root of the problem allowing the bridge to be reopened. Proportionate solution to immediate issue with great community benefits.”

To guarantee public safety, the Grade II* listed bridge was initially closed to vehicles and then to all crossings in 2020. The bridge only reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic in July 2021 following the expert advice from the safety engineers on the Board for the Case for the Continued Safe Operation of Hammersmith Bridge (CCSO) whose work and advice has now been validated by this award.

The team assembled by H&F included principal designers and structural engineers Mott MacDonald working with MISTRAS Group, Cowi, WSP, Goodwin Steel Castings, Xanta, FM Conway and Taziker Industrial.

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Hammersmith Bridge Restoration Project signage

Current works on the bridge

Engineering on the £8.9m Phase 1 programme to stabilise Hammersmith Bridge started at the end of last month.

H&F’s cabinet approved the capital spend to expedite the works at speed in anticipation of the government and Transport for London (TfL) subsequently reimbursing the council with their one-third shares which is expected to be formalised in a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

To enable the works to be undertaken safely, the main carriageway section of the bridge is now closed off.

This means that while this work is taking place, the bridge continues to be open to pedestrians, however cyclists and e-scooter users no longer have access over the main deck and will need to dismount and push their bikes and scooters across the bridge. They have to share the footways with pedestrians.

Last week, H&F Council approved a further investment of £3.5m to progress concept design and associated Phase 2 works for the full strengthening and restoration of Hammersmith Bridge, which would allow the return of motor vehicles and buses.

Again, the council is to initially fund this capital expenditure of £3.5m through borrowing, in anticipation of the government and TFL paying their shares.

“These funds will allow us to continue the work that we’ve been doing to repair the bridge and to progress to stage II – the strengthening and restoration works”, said Cllr Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment.

“This work in particular is going to allow us to look at the feasibility design of the Fosters/COWI proposal and to look at the risk involved in that, including the geotechnical investigation of the riverbed under the current foundations, crowd loading studies and looking at how traffic is likely to work in the development of any toll or road user charging scheme. This money allows us to progress all that work.”

H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan added: “The government’s recommendation that we pay a third is unprecedented given that normally, bridges are paid for in London with TfL paying 85 per cent and outside of London, the government paying 85 per cent of all and the county council, which in this case would be the Mayor of London, paying the top-up.

“So, it is unusual therefore that we face a one-third charge to this.

“There has been a very sudden and rapid series of actions to identify the problems to begin to get those things fixed – this is Hammersmith & Fulham who are acting here, with this particular scheme. It will stabilise the bridge and guarantee that it won’t fall into the river.”

The Phase 1 stabilisation works are expected to be completed by the end of October 2022.

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