Motorists and bus passengers have been warned of major disruption this summer in south-west London when a Thames bridge is closed for repairs.
Wandsworth bridge will be shut to road traffic for about 10 weeks from July 24 – the start of the school holidays – for “essential” maintenance. Pedestrians, and cyclists who dismount, will still be able to use the crossing.
Wandsworth council said checks had revealed that some weight-bearing parts of the 83-year-old bridge needed to be replaced. A failure to carry out the “critical” repairs could result in longer-term closures, it said.
But there are concerns that the shutdown – which is likely to extend into October – will exacerbate longstanding traffic problems caused by the ongoing closure of Hammersmith bridge. Vehicles have been unable to cross the river at Hammersmith since April 2019, with no end date in sight.
Tory party chairman Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea and Fulham, told the Standard: “This 10 week closure by Labour-run Wandsworth will be a hammer blow to my constituents, already swamped with diverted traffic from Hammersmith bridge and dealing with Hammersmith and Fulham council’s controversial Fulham traffic scheme.
“It is a triple whammy of grief for my Fulham and Chelsea constituents.”
The closure of Wandsworth bridge will see additional traffic diverted onto Putney bridge – already busier due to the Hammersmith closure – and Battersea bridge.
The 424 and C3 buses that use Wandsworth bridge will be diverted, though Transport for London has yet to make clear its plans.
Wandsworth said the timing of the work had been co-ordinated with TfL and Hammersmith and Fulham council to cause minimum disruption, and took into account other roadworks planned in south and west London.
Traffic levels are normally lighter during the six-week school summer holidays, which start for most schools on July 21.
Wandsworth leader Simon Hogg said: “These works are essential to protect the bridge, ensure it remains safe to use and keep it open in the long-term. Our primary objective is to get this necessary job done as efficiently and quickly as possible so there is the least amount of disruption possible to residents.”
An initial phase of works began today, when the southbound bus lane and the northbound cycle lane were closed. The bridge will remain open to all forms of transport until July 24.
Mr Hogg said: “Unfortunately a repair job on this scale to an important river crossing means some degree of disruption is unavoidable, and we are sorry for the inconvenience it will cause, but we have worked hard to keep this to the absolute minimum. We have also ensured the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and people who ride bicycles throughout the works.
“We are giving people as much advance warning as we can ahead of July’s closure so that they have plenty of time to plan alternative routes or look at using other forms of transport to get across the river.”
The council is sending warning letters to about 24,000 households on both sides of the river. Warning signs will be placed on lampposts on all approaches in Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham. Digital warning signs will also be used to alert motorists.
Hammersmith and Fulham council, which owns Hammersmith bridge, last month submitted a business case to Government for the full reopening of the bridge, but said details were confidential.
Stabilisation works are due to be complete by this summer, allowing it to open in full to pedestrians and cyclists, who currently have to dismount to cross.