Some upbeat news in the ongoing saga of Hammersmith Bridge — it's just reopened to pedestrians and cyclists.
The 134-year-old suspension bridge, which links Hammersmith with Barnes across the Thames, has been closed to motor vehicles since April 2019, then shut to all traffic in August 2020, owing to damage caused by 70 years of unchecked corrosion.
The decision to reopen the bridge, says Hammersmith & Fulham Council, follows "a series of comprehensive safety investigations", and the installation of a temperature control system that helps prevent cracking in the 19th century cast iron pedestals.
Hammersmith Bridge had also been closed to river traffic, but boats are free to pass beneath it again — great news for the rowing clubs who've not been able to access this part of the water for a while.
Hammersmith & Fulham Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan, who officially reopened the bridge to non-motorists on Saturday, said: "I know how difficult the last 11 months have been for people, particularly children needing to cross the river to get to school and those who need to attend medical appointments or get to work."
But the bridge isn't out of troubled waters yet; there's still the matter of making it safe for cars and buses, which involves a hefty repair bill — far more than this £420,000 temporary fix. Hammersmith & Fulham, TfL and the Department for Transport are still working on a plan, which may involve introducing tolls.
In the meantime, pedestrians, cyclists and rowers can enjoy having this splendid bridge all to themselves.