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Drivers hit with daily toll in Hammersmith Bridge reopening plans

Drivers could face a daily toll if Hammersmith Bridge is partially privatized to pay for repairs to the west London crossing of the Thames – work is eventually due to start in October.

Thousands of drivers are said to be slapped with a daily toll to pay private investors who could fund the bridge’s long-awaited renovation.

Officials are advising how to fund a £130million “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 by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to submit “expressions of interest”, according to a government filing published this week.

Earthworks to facilitate the bridge’s long-awaited repairs will officially begin in October, she added.

The prospect of private investors being brought in to pay for the works increases the risk that thousands of Londoners will be hit with a toll each day to use the 19th-century bridge, local MP Sarah Olney has said.

The 135-year-old junction, a vital part of south-west London’s road network, has been closed to traffic since it was declared unsafe in April 2019. Before its closure, about 22,000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

The closure came after an inspection by engineers who discovered so-called microfractures, the result of decades of uncontrolled corrosion, running through the entire suspension structure.

Unlike many other London bridges over the River Thames, the crossing is owned by Local Council rather than Transport for London. Hammersmith & Fulham does not have enough funds to pay for the necessary repairs.

The situation spiraled into farce last year when the bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists just months after millions of pounds were spent selecting a river ferry company to operate between the north and south banks.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/05/26/drivers-face-daily-toll-threat-hammersmith-bridge-privatisation/ Drivers hit with daily toll in Hammersmith Bridge reopening plans

Russell Falcon

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