Repairs completed ahead of schedule

Forth Road Bridge reopens but HGVs banned until February

Derek MackayThe Forth Road Bridge reopened today amid growing concern from hauliers that it will remain closed for heavy goods vehicles until mid-February.

Cars, buses and pedestrians were able to use the bridge from 6am but HGVs and abnormal loads will continue to be banned. Restrictions on the A985 will also be lifted.

Buses, public services vehicles and any vehicle weighing up to 7.5 tonnes are able to cross the bridge.

Officials said the installation of a steel splint to repair a crack on the structure has been completed ahead of schedule.

Transport minister Derek Mackay (pictured) 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.”

But a spokesman for the Freight Transport Association demanded greater certainty over the date when other vehicles will be allowed to cross and warned that businesses would have to withstand several thousands of pounds in added costs each week.

Fife Council Leader, David Ross welcomed the partial reopening. He said: ‘This is very good news indeed. It’s a great Christmas present for travellers, commuters and many businesses on both sides of the Forth. However, the delay announced for HGVs is frustrating for the haulage industry.

“Nonetheless, I expressed my appreciation to the Scottish Transport Minister when I spoke to him this morning and asked him to convey my thanks to everyone who’s worked so hard to make this re-opening possible for the majority of bridge users.

“I would also like to thank all those who’ve worked tirelessly these past few weeks to help ease the disruption and keep local services going. And thanks must go again to everyone in the community for their patience during these unprecedented events.”

Councillor Lesley Laird, Depute Leader and spokesperson for business and the economy, pledged to continue to work with businesses that will still be affected by restrictions.

“Although the re-opening is welcome news for many of us in Fife and beyond, the fact that HGVs won’t be able to use the bridge until mid-February will undoubted come as a blow to the industry,” she said.

“Of course people understand that safety must be paramount and that these loads cannot cross if it’s not safe to do so. However, businesses dependent on HGVs have been bearing additional operational constraints and costs and had been planning for a January re-opening date.

“Hauliers will now need to continue to take long diversions until February. The council will work with partners, including Transport Scotland, who have pledged extra maintenance resources, to keep routes clear and traffic flowing as far as possible.

“We will also continue to work with Fife Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to provide any support and advice that we can.”

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