The squabble between ministers and London’s City Hall over Hammersmith Bridge has continued even as a solution draws near.
The Government claimed to have ‘required’ Transport for London (TfL) to procure a ferry service the deputy mayor responding that ministers had been slow to provide the cash.
The Department for Transport said that ‘as part of the London bailout, TfL has been required to procure a ferry service for passengers across the Thames near Hammersmith Bridge [which] will allow pedestrians and cyclists to travel point to point, avoiding a circular trip across other bridges.
It linked the announcement to transport secretary Grant Shapps settng up a taskforce to bring together partners, including Hammersmith and Fulham council and TfL, to provide rapid solutions to the bridge’s closure.
The DfT said it had ‘insisted TfL commence work both on the temporary ferry service and work to establish how Hammersmith Bridge could be brought back into use’.
Procurement will start this week and a service will active in the new year, the DfT said:
Mr Shapps said: ‘For too long residents have suffered as those responsible have failed to deal with this issue. I’m pleased to say that, following our funding deal with TfL, alongside the excellent work of our Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce, this first step is becoming a reality.
‘We must of course crack on with longer term solutions and that’s why I also insisted TfL allocate part of the bailout to examining how the bridge can be brought back into use.’
Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor, transport and deputy chair of TfL, said the city authorities had been ready to start the procurement process a month ago and that if cash had been released at beginning of October, a contractor could have been in place by Christmas.
Earlier this week transport minister Baroness Vere revealed that the bridge will not be 'fully open' to motorised vehicles until 2027, after decades of corrosion went unchecked.