Forth Road Bridge reopens today – but not to HGVs
The Forth Road Bridge reopens to vehicles except HGVs from today.
Operating company Amey confirmed that temporary repairs had been completed with Transport Minister Derek Mackay praising the team involved in the repair work who have worked around the clock to get the bridge reopened.
The main points from the update on Forth Road Bridge repairs are as follows:
• Bridge to reopen to all vehicles bar HGVs and abnormal loads from 6am tomorrow (Weds)
• Installation of steel splint to repair the cracked member is complete
• Detailed load testing of the bridge is complete
• HGVs account for 32% of the weight the bridge normally carries despite making up approx 9% of overall traffic
• Splints continue to be installed at other seven truss end links as a precautionary measure - this work can be safely completed with the bridge open
• Full inspection of FRB is 90% complete with no material defects detected - remaining inspection will continue until early January and can be safely completed with the bridge open
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.
"However, 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% of overall traffic on the bridge, they represent 32% 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 north east tower location, and subject to favourable weather and no further defects being identified, the bridge should reopen to HGVs by mid-February."
Superintendent Fraser Candlish of the Road Policing Unit said: "To ensure the Bridge opens to all other traffic, we will be enforcing the closure to HGVs. Officers will be on patrol on both sides of the Forth, maintaining a visible presence and stopping heavy goods vehicles on the approach. There will also be enforcement through static and mobile cameras.
"The restrictions are in place for the safety of all bridge users, and I would continue to urge all HGV drivers to leave extra time for their journeys and use the divisions which are being widely signposted and publicised. Extra officers will continue to patrol these diversion routes also, to respond to any incidents which may occur and keep traffic flowing."