Hammersmith Bridge has been closed indefinitely after safety checks revealed “critical faults.”
Hammersmith and Fulham Council claimed government budget cuts left Transport for London unable to complete urgent repairs on the crossing, leaving it with “no choice” but to shut the bridge to motorists.
A statement on its website said the council had a “fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge and we’re ready to start work” but today’s move was a “huge disappointment.”
Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge, which links Barnes and Hammersmith, but cars and buses will be forced to follow diversions until further notice.
Bus routes 33, 72, 209, 419, 485 and 609 will all be affected by the bridge’s closure.
The statement said: “We’ve had to urgently close Hammersmith Bridge to motorists because of safety concerns.
“Our weekly safety checks have revealed critical faults and we have no choice but to shut the bridge. We’re sorry we couldn’t give you more warning.
“We have a fully tested plan to refurbish the bridge and we’re ready to start work. But, due to government budget cuts, Transport for London (TfL) says it can no longer fund the planned refurbishment. This is a huge disappointment.
“Regrettably, we’ve now been left with no option but to close the bridge indefinitely until the refurbishment costs can be met. So we’re supporting TfL’s call for the government to invest in this vital river crossing and national monument – so we can get on with the work and reopen the bridge.
“Hundreds of daily journeys by heavy buses cause regular distress to the bridge. That’s why we agreed with TfL in 2015 that they would only run one bus in each direction at one time, while we developed a longer-term strengthening plan. But this damage has now reached a critical point.
“Closing the bridge is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we know it will inconvenience many people. We’re sorry for that disruption, but we must put the safety of the public first.”
The Grade II listed bridge was opened in 1887 and was “not built for modern traffic.”
It has been regularly closed in recent years, with emergency repairs having taken place last summer.
A TfL spokesperson said: “Following the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’s decision to close Hammersmith Bridge, six bus routes have been diverted or now stop short of their destination. Customers should check our real time channels for the latest travel information. We are working closely with the borough to minimise disruption.”