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The Forth Road Bridge safety work has descended into chaos. According to The On Sunday newspaper, two key projects have been delayed by nearly three years, adding millions to the cost.
The delays in work on the historic bridge, particularly during emergencies, have delayed plans to use the bridge for traffic.
General traffic such as cars and trucks has been banned from the Forth Road Bridge, which is now used solely as a public transport corridor, after Scotland’s flagship Queensferry Crossing road bridge opened in summer 2017.
In order to ease Queensferry Crossing congestion, or also as an emergency measure when the bridge is closed, transportation advocates have called for the Forth Road Bridge to be at least partially open to general traffic.
76,600 cars crossed the bridge on an average day for the Queensferry Crossing in 2018 – 3 percent more than the Forth Road Bridge used in 2014.
The Scottish Government was debating, at least in emergencies, whether to use one of the world’s most important long-span suspension bridges. In February, this came to the fore after fears were raised that ice on the £ 1.3 billion Queensferry Crossing was falling on cars in winter.
Unbelievable: Despite new ice sensors, Queensferry Crossing must be closed again
The construction company of Transport Scotland, Bear Scotland, reported that there was always a plan to use the Forth Road Bridge as an emergency detour – but continued bridge work meant that it was not available.
When they attempted again last week to fix issues with falling ice on Scotland’s newest road bridge between Edinburgh and Fife, Department for Transport officials agreed to reopen the Forth Road Bridge to cars as an emergency diversion.
The crossing, the outcome of Scotland’s largest infrastructure project in a decade, was closed on Dec. 4 for four hours after patrol officers observed ice falling.
From 10 p.m. both the Queensferry Crossing and the Forth Road Bridge had to be closed to traffic in both directions. Before reopening at 8 a.m. yesterday, Saturday. To allow Bear Scotland to test the setup of the emergency detour today, Sunday.
All traffic was to be diverted via the Kincardine Bridge, an estimated 36 miles and 40 minutes of travel time.
Bear Scotland said construction on the expansion joints could eventually be completed in the next few weeks on the southbound carriageway of the Forth Road Bridge.
The work to replace the 56-year-old expansion joints of the bridge was postponed for 11 years before it was eventually approved in 2018, described as a “safety and maintenance requirement”.
The joint expansion project was one of a number of bridge repair proposals that were delayed when the Forth Replacement Crossing, now known as the Queensferry Crossing, was intended to be Scotland’s flagship road bridge.
The Crossing by Queensferry
The work was initially planned to take eight months and begin in spring 2018, according to official documents seen by The On Scotland.
The job, which had a tender price of £ 6 million, £ 2.5 million more than the original estimate, has now been announced on Sunday, and is not expected to be finished by October 2021, a delay of almost three years.
How much the completion delays would add to the final cost could not be calculated by Transport Scotland.
But the newspaper on Sunday may reveal that delays to another safety repair on the Forth Road Bridge, which is accused of delaying work on the expansion joints, caused the cost to increase by £ 1.7 million from the initial bid price of £ 9.1 million to £ 10.8 million.
Depending on the weather or traffic load, the main expansion joints are critical in allowing the Forth Road Bridge deck to expand and contract.
Work was initially proposed by consultant WA Fairhurst ten years ago to replace the troublesome truss end members.
Again, because of concerns about lengthy closures before the Queensferry Crossing opened, this work was not immediately accepted.
After a 20mm-wide crack was found in one of the eight trusses under the southbound carriageway of the Forth Road Bridge near its north tower in December 2015, construction on the project became a reality.
The crack resulted in the bridge having to be completely closed when within for more than three weeks.