The government’s transport secretary has said he is “pushing very hard” for a partial reopening of Hammersmith Bridge this summer.

Grant Shapps was speaking on LBC this morning (May 20) when asked by Nick Ferrari about a potential reopening for pedestrians in the coming months.

The transport secretary responded: “I’m pushing very, very hard, but unfortunately I don’t own that bridge as transport secretary.”

He proceeded to explain how Hammersmith and Fulham Council were responsible for the repairs, but criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL for not having stepped in to help the bridge reopen faster.

“I’m trying to bring all the parties together to sort of knock heads together to get this thing reopened as quickly as possible,” he added.

“If it was mine, as bridges are elsewhere in the country, we would have had this done by now.”

It comes following a report in the Evening Standard suggesting the bridge could reopen to pedestrians and cyclists this summer.

The report suggests that the reopening of the bridge could form part of the conditions for TfL’s latest bailout from the government.

It is suggested that if Hammersmith and Fulham Council were to agree to proposals to reopen the bridge on an interim basis, the government would put up cash to help pay the cost of repairs to keep it open in the long-term.

An announcement regarding the TfL bailout has been delayed until Friday next week.

In a report published at the start of this year, engineers commissioned by the council stated that the bridge would not be safe to re-open to pedestrians until a program of stabilisation works had been approved.

The report stated: “The public cannot be allowed to use the bridge until it is repaired because it has proved to be unstable and still contains unknowable features.

“Without a funded plan for repair, even the limited current use must cease. It is not acceptable in managing safety risk to rely upon interim measures indefinitely.”

The report followed Hammersmith and Fulham investing in a £420,000 temperature control system to help the bridge’s chain supports better cope with temperature extremes.

While the bridge has been closed to vehicles since April 2019, the closure was extended to cover pedestrians and cyclists in August 2020 – after existing cracks in the bridge were worsened following a heatwave.

In November 2020, Hammersmith and Fulham had been asked by the Secretary of State to pay at least £64m or 50 per cent of the cost of the stabilisation and strengthening works required to safely reopen the bridge.