TRANSPORT Minister Derek Mackay has confirmed the Forth Road Bridge will remain closed until the New Year due to defective steelwork.
He described the situation as an “unprecedented challenge in the maintenance” of the bridge and stressed that safety was the top priority. Extra rail and bus services between Fife and Edinburgh will be rolled out to try and alleviate some of the inconvenience caused by the closure.
Work is now under way to repair the bridge.
The Minister said, “The decision to close the Forth Road Bridge is not taken lightly. It is based on the expert opinion of the engineers who operate the bridge day to day and that of independent experts in the field. Every effort is being made to open the bridge as quickly as possible but safety is the main priority, however these works are weather dependent given the height and location of the bridge. We are aware of the potential economic impact, for strategic traffic in the east of Scotland and on people living in local communities.
“This is an unprecedented challenge in the maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge. On balance following advice from engineers and independent experts, the full closure is essential for the safety of the travelling public and to prevent further damage to the structure of the bridge.
“The bridge operators Amey have a robust inspection team is in place and these defects are problems that have only occurred in the last number of weeks.”
Chartered engineer Mark Arndt, Amey’s account director responsible for the bridge added, “This is a complex engineering challenge. The component failure is in a difficult to access location and our response is also highly dependent on weather conditions. We continue to work around the clock on inspections, assessments and calculations along with the development of designs to effect the necessary repairs, while at the same time mobilising all the resources required to reopen the bridge as soon as is possible.”