Hammersmith Bridge – a fork in the road?

 

Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to motor vehicles since April and is likely to be shut to heavy traffic for several more years. Safety checks revealed the bearings had seized up due to corrosion, and hairline micro-fractures had appeared in the iron casings around the pedestals of the bridge.

Put simply, the Victorian Grade II structure was designed for horses and carts not 22,000 cars and 1,800 buses every day.

”Local

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has employed a team of specialist engineers to inspect and report on the full extent of the repair work needed. They are due to complete a full diagnosis by mid-August. The council is also monitoring the effect of the bridge’s closure across the borough.

This problem immediately presents at least two solutions, in the same way equations often have more than one solution. Possible solutions include strengthening it or using this tool – the bridge – differently.

A living lab

Let us look carefully at the repercussions of this second option.

We are in the middle of what is known technically as a living laboratory. Its closure is having immediate repercussions on the surrounding region that can be studied in detail.

I therefore propose that we think carefully about what we already know and what we can measure while the disruption caused by the closure is there.

A good tool for this type of exercise is something called Future Search, simply: to ask where are we from, where are we now, and where do we wish to be.

The next step is to ask what precisely are we studying.

Are we clear about the possible range of future scenarios? What have other people elsewhere with similar issues done? Are there solutions we have forgotten that with tweaking and modernising would work?

Might we have cut out possible solutions because we have framed the problem too narrowly?

As the old joke goes: 'How do I get to....?' 

'Well, firstly I wouldn’t start from here.'

I would wish to ask a few key questions, what are the purposes of the streets, transport systems, water and land there? Do they really need to be doing what they are currently? 

New logistics 

The importance of one real future scenario has not been recognised widely because it has been looked at in isolation and it has been framed strangely.

”Local

This is about taking e-cargo cycle logistics seriously, and joining them up with open source warehousing that is supplied not only by road but also probably primarily by rail and water. This causes a direct knock-on effect for rail, but this is one I think rail needs to tackle head on - on the issue of common carriage.

Rail is incredibly efficient, but there seem to be a series of self-imposed barriers in its thinking that mean it is not as efficient as it might be. Are there spare paths at night? Are there empty passenger carriages at night?

OK, convert some carriages to carry light goods when and where they are not carrying passengers. This has further knock-on effects because the logistics of loading and unloading light goods are similar – not identical – to issues of social inclusion and with good thoughtful design could be multi-purpose.

This immediately brings in different sources of funding to issues of inclusion. What are the effects of doing this? It reduces the need to use vans to deliver stuff, therefore wear and tear and congestion on roads (and bridges).

There is a second step, which could be taken in parallel. 

Use the experience of places like the Netherlands - as has been replicated in local areas like Waltham Forest - of enabling living neighbourhoods, firstly by simple measures like filtered permeability and using 'no entry except cycling' rules. Then carefully roll these ideas out across the region around Hammersmith Bridge.

So what do we want to do, keep the status quo or make a huge difference across a region?

We have the opportunity to explore this proposal in detail. Hammersmith Bridge will be closed to heavy traffic for a considerable period.

Let us seriously explore if it really need to be reopened to heavy traffic. Possibly we should respect its original purpose. The engineer who built it, Bazelguette, knew how to build very heavy stuff. He decided not to. Maybe he was correct.


Clive is now retired and is the former chair of a co-operative housing association and director of a disabled persons organisation. His career has been in social work, housing and planning. He received a distinction for a dissertation on ecosystems shelter and society.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Project Engineer (Permanent)

Havant Borough Council
£37,100
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Project Engineer (Fixed Term)

Havant Borough Council
£37,100
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Contract Supervisor

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£31,013 - £36,486 depending on skills, knowledge and experience
The role of Contract Supervisor (Waste and Street Cleansing) will require you to support ambitious plans to provide services for residents Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Flood Risk Manager

Birmingham City Council
£43,662 - £54,574
The role requires the post holder to be the lead professional for the Authority’s Flood Risk Management and drainage function Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Head of Highways & Transport

Lewisham London Borough Council
up to £72,705
As our lead expert on highways and transport, you will set the direction and lead on all transport related matters Lewisham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lewisham London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part time, job share and flexible working basis. The salary is u England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director

Hounslow London Borough Council
Up to £82k
Working across a wide range of high profile direct services, the emphasis for this role is on partnership working. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Head of Parks and Environmental Services

Harrogate Borough Council
£58,778 - £61,882
You will have experience at a senior level in the management and delivery of front line services relevant to the functions Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Harrogate Borough Council

Programme Technician/Engineer

Norfolk County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
This is a challenging position which involves working across wide ranging activities. Norwich, Norfolk
Recuriter: Norfolk County Council

Principal Transport Planner – 2 posts (Warrington Waterfront Western Link)

Warrington Borough Council
£40,760 - £43,662 plus essential car user allowance
We are looking to form a new Warrington Waterfront Western Link Team and we are looking to fill a number of key posts Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Director of Integrated Transport

Liverpool City Region
Salary up to £124,848
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is embarking on a search for an exceptional individual with the passion to deliver on our vision Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Highways Manager

Oxford Direct Services
G11
Oxford Direct Services
Recuriter: Oxford Direct Services

Data Entry Administrator

Telford & Wrekin Council
£18,795 - £19,171
Telford & Wrekin’s Public Protection Service is looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated Data Entry Administrator Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Transport Planner

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 to £38,423
You’ll have previous experience of working in a transport/planning/accessible transport environment Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Parking Business Administrator Level 3 Apprenticeship

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
This role will support the Brent Parking Team work to provide administrative support for both the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Principal Engineer (Development)

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
Liverpool City Council wish to recruit a Principal Engineer (Development) to provide managerial and technical support. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Traffic Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
We are looking to recruit a Traffic Manager to join our Highways team Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Team Leader x2 - Passenger Transport

Redbridge London Borough Council
£27,228 - £28,215 per annum
You will be responsible for overseeing the duties of Passenger Transport drivers as well as providing support to the service and managers. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

UTMC Engineer

Warrington Borough Council
£31,371 - £34,788
You will support the UTMC Principal Engineer and work as part of a team responsible for all aspects of Urban Traffic Management and Control Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Programme Assurance Manager Public Realm

Westminster City Council
£46,293 - £49,203 per annum
A graduate, or have equivalent experience, and you can show evidence of continued professional, managerial and personal development... City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council