Long-awaited work to replace the main expansion joints on the Forth Road Bridge will finally get underway – nine years later than first planned.
The original project, which was intended to start back in 2009, would have been by far the bridge’s most disruptive project in its history and would have seen diversions for lorries via the Kincardine Bridge due to extensive overbridging work.
This never came to light after the Forth Estuary Transport Authority took the opportunity to postpone the works when the Scottish Government confirmed its timetable for the construction of the Queensferry Crossing, back in 2008.
Now the year-long project, which itself was several years in the planning, will begin today (November 12) starting with joints in the east footpath. This will be closed until January.
The replacement of joints in the main carriageways is expected to begin in late January and traffic on the bridge will be restricted to a single lane in each direction for most of 2019 while work on the carriageways is in progress. Joints in the west footpath will be replaced once work on the carriageways is complete.
Contractors insist that journey times for vehicles using the public transport corridor over the Forth Road Bridge will not be affected by these works, and no diversions will be required.
The works, undertaken by American Bridge International, will now cost £5.9 million – less than half the £13.7m cost first mooted. This saving is largely attributable to the Queensferry Crossing being available to carry traffic, rendering the overbridging work obsolete.
Mark Arndt, Amey’s Account Director for the Forth Bridges Unit, said: “The main expansion joints are overdue for replacement. However, we’ve been monitoring them closely over the years to ensure the continuing safety of bridge users.
“And we’re now ready to replace them without any disruption to traffic.
“The Queensferry Crossing has already delivered a major benefit by sparing the public the immense disruption that would have been caused if the original works had gone ahead.
“It will also allow us to deliver these works at a significantly reduced cost, and avoid the economic impact of an extended closure to HGVs such as we saw during the emergency repairs of winter 2015-16, when the Road Haulage Association estimated the cost to the industry at over £600,000 per day.
“We’re looking forward to starting on site.”