Hammersmith Bridge could stay closed to vehicles for three years, as experts work to make it safe to drive on again.
The bridge was closed “indefinitely” in April after a weekly check revealed damage that has been known about for years was much worse than authorities thought.
A team of 18 engineers is currently assessing the work that needs to be done, but Richmond Council (the borough on the bridge’s south side) warned in a statement that the repairs could take up to three years.
Leader of Richmond Council Councillor Gareth Roberts was taken on a tour of the bridge on Friday, May 31, by his counterpart at Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Councillor Stephan Cowan.
He said: “We know that Hammersmith Bridge has needed significant restoration work for decades. And, in an ideal world, Hammersmith Council would have had a lot more time to plan and work with the community on a scheduled closure.
“However, the damage was a lot more severe than they once thought. The number one most important thing is that the bridge must be safe to all who use it.
“We will continue working with Hammersmith & Fulham Council and TfL on their plans for the future of the bridge and are committed to making sure that residents on our side are informed and importantly engaged, in any opportunity to help shape its future.”
The bridge belongs to Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who in 2015 agreed with TfL to restore the Grade II listed structure to its Victorian splendour.
Mr Cowan wanted to reassure the many people who used the bridge that it will be reopened to vehicles “as quickly as possible”.
He said: “People on both sides of the river want to see our beautiful Victorian bridge fully restored and operational for generations to come. That is exactly what is going to happen.
“But the works are complex as this Nineteenth Century suspension bridge is unique. It’s made of cast iron which is brittle and uses wooden panelling.
“It was designed for nothing much heavier than horse-drawn carts and carriages but until recently was being used by 20,000 vehicles and 1,800 buses a day.
“We’re pushing to make sure Hammersmith Bridge will be re-opened as quickly as possible. And when it is, people will know that it’s benefited from the most thorough refurbishment programme in its history, which will keep it safe for decades.”
By LDRS Reporter Callum Rutter