THE POSSIBILITY of replacing the Hammersmith flyover with a 'flyunder' came one step closer on Monday (September 9) as the council launched a feasibility study.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council are leading the study to figure out how a subterranean road leading in and out of west London could be paid for and how it could physically be carried out.

The start of the detailed study was revealed today and will run until March 2014; it will also look into how a tunnel could improve traffic flow, reconnect Hammersmith town centre with the river, release valuable riverside land for development and improve qir quality.

Calls for a replacement for the flyover started to become a real possibility after architects, fed up after months of emergency works on the road last year, drew up plans for a tunnel in June 2012.

Fears over the long-term viability of the 50-year-old Hammersmith flyover and the £60 million cost to strengthen it later this year prompted council leader, Nicholas Botterill to seriously consider the plans.

He said: “A tunnel replacement would dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands of west Londoners and, while the council recognises that in the short term TfL needs to prolong its life just a little bit longer, in the medium term a flyunder would be a game changer for Hammersmith.

“A flyunder would reconnect our divided town centre with the river, improving Hammersmith as a place to live and do business, while improving traffic flows and air quality. This is why we have started a feasibility study to dig a little deeper into the various options and work out how the significant benefits that a tunnel would bring could be paid for.”

The study will include an independent technical survey to test ground conditions, and a transport summit, Get Moving, will be organised in the Autumn to discuss ideas for replacing the flyover.

Currently, there are two ideas for how to physically construct a tunnel. One is to sink the road to create a tunnel and another is to bore through the ground like the Cross Rail tunnel construction.

Arund Sonhi, from Hammersmith Bid, which represents businesses in Hammersmith, added: "Hammersmith is currently experiencing a wave of investment as developers recognise that the town is emerging as a serious competitor in the leisure and retail sector. People keep forgetting that Hammersmith has a river because the flyover splits the town in two; it is a relic from a bygone age. Building a tunnel presents an opportunity to enhance the town’s potential and revolutionise the area by opening up land for public and commercial use."

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