The Forth Road Bridge is to fully re-open this weekend.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay confirmed the news this morning (Friday) and said that the repairs to the damaged main span truss end links are in the final stages and that they will be completed to allow the bridge to be re-opened to HGVs at 11pm on Saturday.
The bridge has been available to ninety per cent of users since December 23 and since then the bridge operator Amey has been working around the clock to finish the strengthening programme to give all classes of vehicle which used the bridge prior to closure access again.
This re-opening follows a phased reintroduction of HGVs in the past two weeks with around 1600 taking advantage of the night-time running hours.
Favourable weather conditions during that period have provided welcome relief to the storms during January, meaning that the team has been able to complete this phase of the works ahead of programme.
They have also re-engineered the construction phase to allow the majority of steelwork fabrication to be done in workshop conditions, reducing the impact of the weather.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “It is great to see the Forth Road Bridge fully re-opening this weekend. The immediate repair work is in the final stage and no further structural defects have been identified during painstaking investigations by engineers.
“I know that this is something that will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of drivers who use the bridge on a daily basis, especially the heavy goods vehicle drivers who have had to observe restricted crossing times in the past few weeks.
“I would like to thank them for their patience during this time and stress again that safety and the long-term integrity of the bridge had to be our main considerations. We did all we could to assist the HGV community on an operational level and they have shown great forbearance.
“Tribute should be paid to the engineering team that has been relentless in its commitment to getting this structure re-opened. The team has worked tirelessly throughout despite very challenging weather conditions, employing innovative approaches to the repairs and putting in place very effective solutions to complex problems.
“The sophisticated monitoring systems that have been installed on the bridge will remain. The operators Amey have also taken the opportunity to give the Forth Road Bridge a full structural a health check and undertaken routine maintenance lessening the need for further closures.”
Mark Arndt, Amey’s account director for the Forth Road Bridge, said: “Getting to this stage is the result of months of hard work from our team and partners and we’re hugely appreciative of the dedication shown by everyone involved during, what has been, a very challenging time.
“The finish line is now in sight and by Saturday, we’ll have completed all the necessary repairs to safely reopen both the north and south bound carriageway to all traffic.”