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A4 Flyover to Reopen for Olympics

Road ClosedTransport for London (TfL) has insisted that repairs on the Hammersmith flyover will be finished in time for the 2012 London Olympics this summer. It’s been announced that the section of the A4 will have to stay closed to traffic for another week at minimum just to assess the extent of structural problems. London Mayor Boris Johnson says that the flyover won’t be closed any longer than it has to be, but he admitted that the closure is causing trouble for traffic.

The Hammersmith flyover was shut down on December 23 because of water damage that weakened and corroded the cables that strengthen the bridge. TfL director of surface transport Leon Daniels said then that he has been inside the flyover and seen the unique issues they face. Safety has to be their top priority, and they haven’t taken the decision to shut the flyover down lightly.

Commuters and locals have been faced with massive disruptions since the closure was implemented, as motorists have been forced to take a detour. An 80-strong engineering team was inspecting the extent of the damage and carrying out strengthening work on the structure, which is a key section of the road that takes traffic to and from the British capital’s Heathrow hub. As an extension of the M4, it’s also a main route out of London, and every day about 90,000 vehicles travel the bridge, which was established in the ’60s. Warnings are in place on the M25 and M4, as well as locally, for motorists to avoid using the section of road.

Engineers have told Johnson that their investigation into the damaged cables has to continue for another week before they will be in a position to decide if it’s strong enough to be reopened for light traffic. The mayor says that he reassures drivers and locals that the flyover won’t be shutdown one day longer than need be. Safety has to be their top priority, but TfL will reopen the bridge as soon as they can. He can also assure Londoners that a plan is being completed within the next few days and work is already starting on strengthening the bridge so that it will be fully operational before the Olympic Games this summer.

TfL says that an extra lane was added to the A4 Talgarth Road to ease congestion, while there are plans to move traffic from the M4 onto other routes if they have to and traffic signals have been re-phased. Director of strategy and policy Garrett Emmerson says that they are constantly working to get where they understand how many vehicles the flyover can support. They will decide from there as to when/if it can be reopened. He added that engineers are completely analysing and investigating the structure, which is taking some time.

 

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