Motorists could be hit with a daily toll if Hammersmith Bridge is partially privatized to pay for repairs to the west London crossing over the River Thames – with work eventually due to start in October.
Thousands of drivers risk being slapped daily by private investors who could finance the bridge’s long-awaited renovation.
Authorities are consulting on how to fund a £130m ‘stabilization and strengthening process’ to reopen one of the world’s oldest mechanical suspension bridges. It has been closed to vehicles for more than three years.
Equity and debt investors are being asked to submit ‘expressions of interest’ by the board of Hammersmith & Fulham, according to a government filing released this week.
Preparatory work to facilitate the long-awaited repair of the bridge will officially begin in October, he added.
The prospect of private investors being brought in to pay for the work increases the risk that thousands of Londoners will be hit with a toll every day to use the 19th-century bridge, local MP Sarah Olney said.
The 135-year-old level crossing, a crucial part of South West London’s road network, has been closed to traffic since it was declared unsafe in April 2019. Prior to its closure, some 22,000 vehicles crossed the bridge every day.
The closure followed an inspection by engineers, who discovered so-called microfractures from decades of uncontrolled corrosion that are riddled throughout the suspension structure.
Unlike many other London bridges over the Thames, the crossing is owned by the local council rather than Transport for London. Hammersmith & Fulham does not have sufficient funds to pay for the necessary repairs.
The situation descended into farce last year when the bridge was reopened to pedestrians and cyclists just months after millions of pounds were spent choosing a river ferry operator to run services between the northern shores and south.
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This notice was published: 2022-05-26 13:56:20