The current closure of Hammersmith Bridge to all motor vehicle traffic as well as Pedestrians and Cyclists is an emergency for Barnes. Below is an update as the Barnes Ward Councillors on what we are doing to support the project to repair the main bridge and pressing for an urgent solution for a temporary crossing.
Update on the Taskforce
The Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce was set up by the Department for Transport in September 2020 to work towards safely reopening Hammersmith Bridge and we very much welcome the appointment of the Project Director, Dana Skelley, by the task force to ensure there is leadership to move the work forwards.
The recent public meeting with the taskforce held on 28th October gave an estimate of 6.5 years before the main bridge would be restored to use for cars and buses, significantly longer than previous estimates of 3 years. This timeframe highlights the desperate need for a temporary solution for our residents who have already had years of disruption and confusion over the future of the bridge.
Baroness Vere who chairs the taskforce, restated the commitment from Central Government to provide financial support to fund the bridge repairs. She stated that to progress there must also be a local contribution by the owning Council in line with DfT requirements for all other local projects; and there needs to be fully costed project plan.
It is now clear that progressing with the repairs is being stalled by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and we will continue to hold them to account. We urge our colleagues on Richmond Council to do the same, and if Hammersmith and Fulham Council will not take responsibility for the bridge, then we re-state our long held suggestion that Richmond Council should take ownership of the bridge so that those residents who use and benefit from the bridge, have influence over its repair.
A Temporary Crossing
The task force update stated that they believed a ferry service across the river would be the preferred transport solution to deliver a crossing for residents in the short-term. They say it would take 66 working days to be up and running, once finance is agreed. We welcome the offer from Richmond Council to fund the capital investment for a ferry landing point on the South Side of the River, but it appears that Hammersmith & Fulham Council are not willing to fund the equivalent on the North side.
We welcome Richmond Council accepting our call to make a contribution to the temporary crossing, and if a temporary bridge becomes the preferred option over a ferry then we are glad there is a commitment to contribute to a temporary crossing from our council.
Whilst we are reassured that the task force is now moving this project forwards after years of inaction by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Transport for London, we want to see progress on temporary solutions happening much faster, and we have shared that message directly with Ministers. Our local residents need to be able to cross the river now, and we would like to see a temporary crossing in place as soon as feasibly possible.
We have written to both Baroness Vere - the Parliamentary Undersecretary of state for Transport, and the Mayor of London, to ask questions and press for action.
Copies of the letters can be found here:
With the bridge closed, for many people the bus is their only option to connect to Hammersmith, or to the underground station in Putney. We have raised the issue consistently with TFL highlighting the importance of the 533 bus for many residents and the need to increase the frequency. We are pleased that TFL have responded to ours and residents' requests, and that the 533 frequency is increasing to 5 buses per hour from the 2nd November. We are also pressing Richmond Council and Transport for London to quickly resolve the issues which are impeding the 378 bus from being routed along Church Road before travelling to Putney Bridge which would make the bus more easily accessible to a greater number of Barnes residents.
As the evenings are getting darker earlier, the importance of safety measures along the tow path to ensure those routes provide a safe alternative for people who choose to walk or cycle to connect to either Putney Bridge or Barnes Bridge has been our priority. We have raised the issue of safety along the tow path at the most recent council meeting, and we are pleased that measures are being introduced which include: surface upgrades to the towpath; wayfinding lighting; and four park guard marshals on bicycles who will patrol the towpath, from Monday 26th October, between Hammersmith Bridge and Beverley Brook from 3pm - 7pm on weekdays. We are also asking Councillors on the North side of the river to consider safety and lighting options at Dukes Meadows.
Businesses by the Bridge
We know that recent challenges due to Covid have meant that many businesses are struggling at this time. The closure of Hammersmith Bridge to pedestrians has exacerbated that issue for the many shops, cafes and restaurants on Castelnau Parade. Please do continue to support these local businesses, especially during this period, we’re lucky to have some fantastic local businesses and they need all our support.
We will continue to keep the pressure up on all these issues. Ensuring that there is a temporary crossing at Hammersmith Bridge remains our top priority for Barnes. Thank you for all the residents who have shared their stories, concerns, and ideas for solutions, with us. We are happy to discuss these important issues with you any time or hear any suggestions you might have.
Nicholas Rogers, Conservative London Assembly Candidate for Richmond, says:
"I, too, welcome the establishment of the Taskforce, with some brilliant engineering minds now tackling the problem. It is a great shame that Hammersmith & Fulham and TfL allowed this situation to drift for so long. A temporary crossing is needed urgently; I support your local Barnes councillors in their efforts to expedite this. The residents’ response to this situation has been magnificent, both in how people have supported one another and in the effectiveness of local organisation and activism.”