Tear down the Hammersmith Flyover

The closure of the Hammersmith Flyover due to the discovery of structural failures should lead to a bolder long term approach – tear it down.

After all in 1989 earthquake damage led to the closure of the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francico, it now reconnects the city with its waterfront.

Madrid has buried a six km stretch of motorway to reinstate a river.

There are examples all over the world, from Milwaukee to Seoul, with a freeway now planned for redevelopment as parks and houses in the Bronx New York.

Even where roads are not replaced there is rarely congestion for the simple reason that heavy amounts of traffic should not be in the centre of cities anyway and traffic on such roads must inevitably reach normal urban roads leading to time savings to be insignificant.

The only urban motorways or equivalent built in London were the first phases of the inner London Motorwau Box, soon abandoned, leading to roads which go nowhere except from one jam to another.  Why did the Hammersmith Flyover get past, well it did help that the main contractor was the family firm of the then transport minister Ernest Marples.

Now a TfL whistleblower is claiming that the safety problems are far worse than reported.

100s of homes were demolished to create the flyover, it separates Hammersmith from the Thames and a ghastly giant roundabout separates King Street from Hammersmith Station.

My plan would be to return the flyover to grade with traffic looping north of St Pauls church, but in both directions, and closing Queen Caroline Street to Traffic, There then could be created three new public spaces, one north of the Apollo, one between Kings Street and the Station, and one south of St Pauls Church.  Two 1 Ha or so development sites would be created west of St Pauls Church.  Butterwick would become two way so all traffic looped south of the Broadway.  I would also end the King Street Gyratory system making King Street two way but with pedestrian priority/shared surface.

Brompton Road I would reduce to two lanes with much wider pavements creating a grand pedestrian boulevard from Knightsbridge, Via Harrods to the Museums.  Cromwelll Road and Talgarth Road would be managed to be much more pedestrian Friendly, like Kensington High Street.

At the moment the only traffic function the Great West Road fulfills is to get out of Mayfair quickly to the airport – this should not be a priority – there is a train which is quicker.

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About andrew lainton

International Urban Planner

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Transport Planning, Urban Design. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Should the flyover not remain as a monument to 60s optimism and utopian dreams?

  2. Not only should it remain, they should have not cancelled the plan! Look at the traffic now! If anything they should push forward for the complete London Ringway Scheme and solve London’s transportation nightmare once and for all!

  3. Seriously?

    Aside from anything else it would be political suicide to try and build the ringways. Besides ‘Motorways in London’ (1969) tears apart the argument for ringways. Give it a read.

    In many ways I’m saddened that the ringways proposals came along at all. The Westway (part of the ringways) was what really turned people away from motorways. After that they never really came back into fashion.

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