Repair work on Hammersmith Bridge could cost £120m and take three years as the local council and Transport for London (TfL) intend to enable cars and buses to cross again.
The 132-year-old, Grade 2 listed structure has been closed to motor vehicles after the bridge’s bearings had seized up due to corrosion and hairline micro-fractures had started to appear in the iron casings around the pedestals.
Following a detailed investigation, TfL and Hammersmith and Fulham Council have agreed the works needed to repair Hammersmith Bridge.
The first stage of the work has now begun – and TfL has provided £25m to pay for it.
TfL and the council are 'continuing to explore the most appropriate funding for the next phase of construction, ahead of the planned award of a contract for the next stage of the works next spring'.
Once completed, the refurbishment will enable cars and buses including the heavier electric single-deckers, to cross the bridge but to prevent future damage, TfL will continue to limit the flow of buses on and off the bridge.
The move will prove controversial with some who argued the closure of the bridge to motor vehicles would help reduce traffic in the long run.
Council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said: 'This comprehensive structural review was the first in decades. It has revealed corrosion and significant failings throughout the 132-year-old suspension structure that, had they been allowed to continue unchecked, would have been a threat to public safety.
'I am grateful to Transport for London and the mayor of London for their help with designing this scheme, and for working closely with us to get the bridge fully and quickly restored.
'I’m also grateful to Cllr Gareth Roberts, the Leader of Richmond Council, and his team, for their constructive approach to getting the bridge re-opened as quickly as possible. Working together we are doing everything we can for local residents and businesses on both sides of the river to minimise disruption.'
Garry Sterritt, TfL’s head of asset investment, said: 'This bridge is not only a historic and iconic structure in west London, but an important transport link - connecting people across the river and supporting local economies.
'We’re committed to supporting the next stages of the project, and will work with Hammersmith and Fulham Council to identify the best way to pay for the later stages of the refurbishment.'