© Provided by Evening Standard(Lucy Young )
Hammersmith Bridge was completed in 1887 and is an example of pioneering Victorian engineering. Today we are spending a ludicrous £120 million of public money over three years to restore it.
Do you think the Victorians would have poured public money into restoring a bridge that was designed to transport horses and carts, but was collapsing to carry trains or trams? I doubt it.
Any sane person would lay out a plan to replace it with fit for purpose bridge, built in the shortest possible period, designed to deal with the task in hand. If necessary, in order to make he nostalgic happy, they could even build it in the same style as the original. Would they elect to rebuild their own house to an out dated historical spec? No, they'd rewire, replumb, and use modern insulation. The same logic could be applied to the bridge.
Infrastructure vital for daily heavy-duty use can't always enjoy being "Trigger's new broom" - patched up for the posterity's sake. Think of the original stone London Bridge, commissioned in the 1100s by Henry II, crowded with homes, shops and chapels. Load-bearing and fires took their toll, so after some 600 years a new London Bridge was built. Neglected Hammersmith Bridge hasn't lasted so long. Officials must be open-minded, perhaps half-reopening the old one for pedestrians and cyclists while building a robust successor able to take modern vehicle tonnage.
Mark Blunden, Technology Correspondent
Ministers fail the competence test
The Government has ordered the closure of a Covid test centre at Ebbsfleet to make way for a lorry park to help deal with the expected chaos resulting from Brexit. A striking demonstration of what the real priorities of this administration are.