A Hammersmith and Fulham Council statement on its website said: “We’ve had to urgently close Hammersmith Bridge to motorists because of safety concerns.
“Our weekly safety checks have revealed critical faults and we have no choice but to shut the bridge. We’re sorry we couldn’t give you more warning.”
Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge but it will be closed to cars and buses until further notice.
The council has plans for a full refurbishment of the bridge but they have been delayed due to cuts in Transport for London funding.
The council said: “Since Christmas 2017 our specialist consultants have been performing exhaustive examinations of the bridge to assess in fine detail what work will be required for the full refurbishment.”
Hammersmith Bridge was built in 1887 and is a Grade II listed structure.
More than 20,000 vehicles cross it every day.
The council said: “It was never designed to carry this volume and weight of traffic and the constant vibration from those vehicles damages the bridge and road surface.
“While the bridge has been refurbished in the past, major intervention is necessary to ensure the bridge is fit for purpose in the future.
“It is now time for the bridge to have a full refurbishment. This will include strengthening work and a full resurfacing that will last for many years.”
A TfL spokesperson said: “Although funding the maintenance of the bridge is not TfL’s responsibility, we are working with Hammersmith and Fulham Council to identify a final plan for upgrading their bridge.
“We are also ready to support them in identifying the necessary funding for this work.
“Keeping local authority infrastructure in good condition is essential to ensure the wider road network stays safe and productive and helps the economy grow.
“We need the certainty of a long-term steady and sustained funding arrangement to allow London to cover the costs of its own infrastructure maintenance.”