By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter
Ferries to help schoolchildren and key workers cross the Thames beside Hammersmith Bridge will be in place “early next year”.
The Task Force set up to manage the restoration of Hammersmith Bridge made the announcement on Thursday after holding its third meeting.
The new timeline comes after Hammersmith and Fulham council leader Stephen Cowan said on September 18 that the council had set itself an “ambitious target of the end of October” to get the ferries up and running.
The Task Force is chaired by Transport Minister Baroness Vere, and includes Mr Cowan, the leader of Richmond council, and officials from Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport.
The 133-year-old bridge closed to pedestrians and cyclists in August, after cracks in its north-east pedestal, made of cast iron, grew wider during the hot weather.
Parents from Barnes and Hammersmith, whose children attend schools on the opposite side of the Thames, have expressed desperation about their school runs now taking two hours by bus or car.
At a council meeting on September 16, Hammersmith and Fulham’s chief officer for public realm, Bram Kainth, said “landing points” with pontoons and temporary structures will need to be created, in order to provide a ferry crossing.
He explained that planning permission and consent from the Environment Agency and Port of London Authority will be needed, as well as from parties who own land on the river banks.
It has yet to be decided whether the ferries would charge passengers or be free to use, and whether they would be restricted to school children, key workers or disabled people, Mr Kainth said.
Pictured top: Hammersmith Bridge
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