The Forth Road Bridge is set to reopen on Wednesday morning for all vehicles apart from HGVs and abnormal loads.
The bridge will open from 6am on Wednesday after operating company Amey confirmed that the installation of a steel splint to repair a cracked member has been completed. While only a temporary solution, the steel splint has allowed for the reopening of the bridge until permanent repairs are carried out. Splints are also being installed on at seven other truss end links as a precautionary measure.
Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, said, “I am pleased that we are now able to reopen the bridge to 90 per cent of traffic, well ahead of schedule. Following rigorous testing and inspection of the temporary repair, experts have recommended the bridge is now ready to open to all traffic except HGVs. With the temporary solution now in place, the remaining work to install the long-term repair can safely proceed without the need for a full closure. The repairs will be carried out with overnight lane restrictions on the bridge.
“For the complex and detailed interim repair to have been completed in this timeframe is a tribute to the highly skilled and dedicated staff who have worked 24/7 since December 3rd. Since the closure was put in place, weather conditions have been mainly favourable and the team have been able to complete the repair work in good time.
Minister Mackay called the bridge closure “an unprecedented challenge” and praised the hard work of those involved in the repair process and the transport operators that put on extra services.
He then went on to address the issue of HGVs, “We understand that there will be considerable disappointment that the bridge will require to remain closed to HGVs for a few more weeks. While HGVs account for 9 per cent of overall traffic on the bridge, they represent 32 per cent of the weight the bridge carries. We therefore have no choice but to accept the recommendation of the engineers.
“However, we will now work with hauliers to discuss what operational support will be available to them during the period when they cannot access the bridge. Engineers predict that following the permanent repair at the failed northeast tower location, and subject to favourable weather and no further defects being identified, the bridge should reopen to HGVs by mid-February.
“In addition to the interim repair on the cracked member, splints are being installed on the other seven members as a precaution. Of these, work is already complete at four and the remaining three will be completed, subject to weather, by the end of December. There is no reason for the bridge to remain closed while this work is completed. The other seven members have also been inspected and load tested and no issues have been discovered. However strain gauges will also be attached to these members to gather accurate data on their performance.
“Since closure of the bridge was put in place it has also undergone a thorough health check. A painstaking inspection has been carried out involving over 65 rope access inspectors and drone footage to identify any other defects. The inspection is 90 per cent complete and no material defects have been identified. It will be concluded by early January and there is no reason to keep the bridge closed while this is completed.”