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Hammersmith Bridge: 'At least five more years until it reopens', Londoners told on 5th anniversary of closure as costs balloon.

The Grade II* listed crossing was hurriedly closed to vehicles five years ago with Londoners warned not to expect it to reopen andytime soon as costs soar

Londoners have been warned on the fifth anniversary of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge that it will be at least another five years before it can be reopened to cars, even if the £250 million estimated cost of fixing it is found today.

The Grade II* listed crossing was hurriedly closed to vehicles five years ago after its owner, Hammersmith and Fulham council, found that its wrought-iron structure was riddled with cracks. Pedestrians and cyclists were temporarily banned the following year.

The shutdown has brought worse congestion to much of west London, isolated residents in Barnes on the south side of the river, and prompted global ridicule because of Britain’s inability to repair a vital piece of transport infrastructure in its capital.

The estimated cost of making it safe for cars and buses has ballooned from an initial £20million to the current £250million. Around £30million has already been spent by the Labour-run council and the Department for Transport in stabilisation work that has allowed the bridge to reopen to pedestrians and cyclists.

However, a more ambitious plan to fully restore the bridge — which would include a toll for drivers — has been caught in political wrangling and is still being considered by DfT officials a year after it was submitted by the local authority.

But council sources said that even if a cheque was written today, the detailed work, including removing the pedestals at the end of the bridge to make it safe for the 21st century, would take another five years.

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to the full reopening of the bridge to motor vehicles including buses. But we are a small local authority with very limited funding, and we must have the financial support of the Department for Transport and Transport for London, as well as an agreement to fund our share via a toll.

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