Severe road delays as defect closes Hammersmith flyover

Motorists faced miles of tailbacks and severe delays in west London as a flyover which forms a key route in and out of the city was shut for repairs.

Transport for London (TfL) said the Hammersmith flyover, which carries traffic from the M4 and A4, would be shut until at least early January.

The flyover was closed early on Friday after engineers noticed structural defects, which needed urgent repairs.

There were tailbacks of up to a mile east and west on Friday night.

A TfL spokesman said westbound there were tailbacks up to North End Road and to the east of the flyover cars were queuing up to River Court Road.

The defect on the flyover, which required it to close, was discovered when work began in the early hours of Friday.

'Totally gridlocked'

TfL urged people heading to Heathrow Airport to find alternative routes and drivers have been advised to avoid the area as diversions are in place.

In the afternoon tailbacks had reached up to five miles heading out of London, and about two miles going into the city.

Delays were reported in Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Mortlake, Barnes and Putney.

TfL said traffic was stretching back along the River Thames to the Albert Bridge.

Image caption TfL has advised people to avoid the area

BBC presenter Chris Evans tweeted: "London is totally grid locked. Avoid West London at all costs. Never seen it like that."

One driver said it had taken four hours to get from Brixton to Hammersmith, while another said she had done six miles in three hours.

The flyover - which normally handles about 90,000 vehicles a day - has been closed as internal cables which help to hold the concrete structure in place need urgent repairs.

TfL said engineers and contractors, along with external experts in structural engineering, would be "working around the clock" over the Christmas and new year period to complete the assessment and decide what action needed to be taken.

Earlier Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, said: "We are very sorry for the disruption this will cause drivers and we are doing everything we can to minimise traffic disruption."

Chelsea Football Club also warned fans planning to attend the match against Fulham on Boxing Day to be aware of the flyover closure and to plan their routes carefully, particularly in light of the Tube strike on the same day.

Drivers can find the latest traffic information on the BBC London travel website.

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