Structure swaddled in foil due to extreme temperatures
Hammersmith Bridge In Heatwave. Picture: Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped up to stop it shutting down in the extreme heat. The 135-year-old structure has been swaddled in giant pieces of foil to stop it over-heating after weather warnings from the Met Office.
The Grade II* listed bridge was shut down in August 2020 after small cracks in the cast-iron structure expanded in a heatwave. It reopened to walkers and cyclists in July 2021 and the measures taken aim to rule out it being fully closed.
Engineering firm Arcadis has since installed a £420,000 temperature control system on the bridge to keep it safe and avoid stress on the pedestals. In a statement, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said the equipment is like “a giant air conditioning unit”, which protects the chains supporting the bridge.
Experts have also been working on extra measures to keep the historic bridge cool after an Amber Alert from the Met Office and weather predictions of 34C in the borough on Tuesday 19 July. Engineers have installed silver insulation foil on the chains to reflect the sun off the bridge and are running the cooling system throughout the night.
Engineer Sebastian Springer, who is leading the project, said public safety is the top priority of experts working on the bridge. He added, “The safety of the public is our first priority.
“The temperature control system allows us to track weather spikes and maintain a constant temperature. As we deal with the current extreme heat, we are also coming up with innovative solutions to keep the temperature within the threshold.”
Hammersmith Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, built in 1887 and one of Britain’s most expensive to fix at an estimated cost of £141 million. The Department for Transport previously said it would pay no more than a third of the total repair costs.
The structure is made up of wood and wrought iron with the suspension held together by cast iron pedestals. The first phase of fixing the bridge is underway, with £8.9m spent on stabilising micro-fractures in the pedestals.
The chains are anchored to the riverbed and maintained to stay under 13C. Engineers will shut the bridge if any of the chains reach 18C. If the bridge does have to close, it is likely to just be a temporary decision, the council says.
Hannah Neary - Local Democracy Reporter
July 14, 2022
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